[Dixielandjazz] The Re-Invented Preservation Hall Jazz Band

Steve Barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Fri Jun 22 06:55:04 PDT 2007

I guess it had to happen. It seems as if Preservation Hall Jazz Band has
moved a step closer to the music of Rebirth Brass and Dirty Dozen Jazz

As the review says below:  . . . "the band has become worth another hearing
. . . It had drive, and funk, and believe it or not, youth."

Hmmmm. Does that mean they have been following the long running DJML thread
about how to reach "the new audience"? :-) VBG.

Steve Barbone

Music Review | Preservation Hall Jazz Band - JVC JAZZ FESTIVAL
Serving Some Gumbo From Old New Orleans


John Brunious on trumpet and the band at the JVC Jazz Festival. In the front
line with Brunious are a Sop Sax, an Alto Sax, and a Tenor Sax.

NY TIMES - By BEN RATLIFF Published - June 21, 2007

Even before Hurricane Katrina the Preservation Hall Jazz Band had been
reviving. Now, touring heavily, making new records and collaborations, and
perhaps carrying a sharper mandate of cultural preservation ‹ because the
New Orleans we knew really is gone ‹ the band has become worth another

The band was still playing old New Orleans repertory from the first half of
the 20th century at its Town Hall concert on Tuesday night, the first big
concert of the JVC Jazz Festival. It had drive, and funk, and, believe it or
not, youth.

Before the band came on, a young quartet called the New Orleans Bingo Show
warmed up the audience, setting up in the front rows and playing like a
theatrical street band: whiteface makeup, vintage suits, a ukulele, kazoos,
fake tap dancing. It was a good starting place, drawing a link between the
old music to come and the mysterious-funhouse atmosphere that continues in
New Orleans.

John Brunious is the Preservation Hall band¹s leader, singer, trumpeter. He
kept the band on the up-and-up, playing a kind of solemnized Armstrong
style, an orderly presence in the contrapuntal scrimmage of horns at the end
of ³Bourbon Street Parade.²

But much of the action was in the rhythm section. The drummer Joe Lastie
played like a dream, with a heavy bass-drum foot and a tiny cymbal; he could
put funk in the slowest songs. (One of the things this band preserves is
slow tempos: In ³Just a Closer Walk With Thee² it found a crawl that you
don¹t really find in jazz anymore.) And one of the band¹s post-Katrina
changes is the addition of the bassist Walter Payton, a beloved player and
teacher in New Orleans. He played calmly with a big tone, bumping the music
along, while Ben Jaffe, the son of the group¹s founder, Allan Jaffe, played
tuba for most of the night, doubling the music¹s low end.

Some guests fed the band¹s machine, making it play harder. The violinist
Jenny Scheinman ‹ who plays in a much more flowing, finely wrought style
than the abrupt staccato of old New Orleans phrasing ‹ joined it for ³St.
James Infirmary,² with Mr. Brunious singing the lyrics and the Cab Calloway
³hi-de-hi-de-hi-de-ho² refrain. Ms. Scheinman dug into her melody and
variations, playing long notes and repeated phrases. And Steve Wilson played
soprano saxophone with a strong, broad tone on ³Shake That Thing.² A product
of the competitive, studious New York jazz scene of the last few decades, he
was practically supersonic compared with the earthy, chuckling sound of the
band¹s regular saxophonist, Darryl Adams. But the band loved both musicians
and enveloped them in the songs.

Allen Toussaint, a New Orleanian now living in New York, lent his light,
pretty voice to the show, playing a song in praise of the band. ³Put pep in
your step and pride in your slide,² he purred, playing piano hard and
rhythmically, increasing the funk. And in two final numbers ‹ ³Last Chance
to Dance² and ³When the Saints Go Marching In² ‹ the band paraded around the
room with the audience, the Bingo Show guys mugging and miming, the friskier
audience members joining the dance and opening their umbrellas, in
second-lining style.

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