[Dixielandjazz] Preservation Hall

Steve Barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Wed Oct 4 07:21:12 PDT 2006

"Robert Smith" <robert.smith at tele2.no> wrote
> Well, Bill Haesler has thrown down the gauntlet, so here's my two penn'orth:
> I have a few recordings of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band up to and
> including 1986. The 1986 recordings are a video from a concert in
> Kristiansand. It seems to me that they do represent and attempt to preserve
> the true spirit of the original New Orleans jazz. The music is harmonious,
> with both ensemble and simple solos. The solos do not deviate much from the
> melody line, and are certainly not designed to demonstrate the soloist's
> technical skills. The solos are far removed from the later soloists'
> departures into the stratosphere, a trend that began with Louis Armstrong,
> Jimmie Noone, Coleman Hawkins, and others one can name.
> Don't get me wrong; I'm not knocking the later soloists, just giving my
> opinion of why we shouldn't knock the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. In my
> opinion they are continuing the aim of Allan Jaffe (one of the founder
> members) to preserve the spirit of true New Orleans jazz, as opposed to
> Chicago and New York jazz as epitomised by King Oliver and Duke Ellington.
> We don't have much recorded evidence of how New Orleans jazz really sounded,
> only some twenty-odd recordings actually made in New Orleans in the 1920's,
> so it's valuable that the Preservation Hall Jazz Band can give us some idea
> of how the music really sounded.

Amen Bob. Too often we tend to disdain that which is not musically perfect
in our own ears. And/or we confuse the venue in New Orleans (which is a run
down tourist trap) with the music of the touring Preservation Hall Bands.

Tom Wiggins asks where the money goes, why don't they rebuild the venue etc.
The answer is relatively simple. The venue is barely self supporting. There
is no extra money there. And not enough audience there for N.O. Jazz right
now, so they offer other acts including R & R.

Like any other jazz venue in the USA, there is precious little money to be
made on the night club scene. How could it be otherwise with capacity crowds
at say 150 patrons?

Musically perfect? Of course not. Early jazz was far from musically perfect.
It was played by black musicians who were mostly self taught. (And when
their songs were copyrighted, many were credited to latter day whites)

It's like listening to The Rebirth Brass Band. Musically perfect? Good
heavens no. What N.O. Orleans marching band today is, or ever was? In fact
some would say that sound is a confusing polyphonic hodgepodge

Yet contrast their audiences at New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival with
those listening to musically perfect Dixieland at OKOM Festivals. The folks
listening to Rebirth number in the thousands, smiling, moving and swaying to
the music and having a raucous good time. Those 200 at an OKOM Festival; are
sitting quietly, listening to "ART" music and shushing others who breathe
too heavily. Yeah I'm exaggerating by you get the point. Not too different
from the "modern" jazz audiences in NYC when I was a kid. Yeah, we knew we
were the only ones who understood "good" jazz back then. You just have to
laugh at such pathetic egotistical notions don't you?

Depends upon how you hear. With your gut, or with your brain, or with you
preconceived notions of what jazz is, or your ego, or whatever.

It is just spitting into the wind to bitch about the great unwashed liking
Rebirth and/or Preservation Hall while the real fans (read all three of us)
are the only ones who can appreciate jazz. Yeah, right. So if you want to
down play their achievements, suffice it to say "They are the best at what
they do."

I forget who said it (not Bill Haesler) but: "Jazz is a big tent and there
is room for all."

Steve Barbone

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