New music spotlight: Preservation Hall Jazz Band

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Published on: May 9th, 2017

906x680 Ben Jaffe and Clint Maedgen of Pres Hall Jazz Band [Photo by Ryan Hodgson-Rigsbee]

Ben Jaffe and Clint Maedgen of Pres Hall Jazz Band [Photo by Ryan Hodgson-Rigsbee]
Ben Jaffe and Clint Maedgen of Pres Hall Jazz Band [Photo by Ryan Hodgson-Rigsbee]

Preservation Hall 'So It Is'

Preservation Hall 'So It Is'
Preservation Hall 'So It Is'

Preservation Hall Jazz Band’s latest effort, So It Is, brings together a variety of influences from the New Orleans musical pedigree. The album consists of all-new original music, largely composed by longtime members Ben Jaffe (tuba and bass) and Charlie Gabriel (tenor saxophone) with the assistance of Clint Maedgen (saxophone), Ronnel Johnson (trombone), Walter Harris (drums), Kyle Roussel (piano), and Branden Lewis (trumpet).

In 2015, the band embarked on a trip to Cuba, a major source of inspiration for So It Is. While Preservation Hall Jazz Band has been the torchbearer for preserving and carrying forward the Crescent City’s musical traditions, they are also innovators of shifting the city’s sound. By incorporating Cuban and Latin influence into the fold, Preservation Hall Jazz Band has created a traditional jazz record that is a marriage of the quintessential New Orleans musical elements and the vibrant Cuban dance pulse that gives a new identity to New Orleans traditional music.

Bandleader Ben Jaffe starts the record with this slinking bass line to lead in the rest of the band in on the cool, laidback title track. ‘So It Is’ saunters off purposefully to allow the rest of the album to really heat up. ‘Santiago,’ the second track on So It Is came to fruition specifically from an exchange between some Cuban percussionists Preservation Hall encountered on their 2015 trip to Cuba. The Afro-Cuban dance beat provides a vivacious rhythm for the horns to sing and swell over and is infectiously danceable. See the live performance below.

‘La Malanga’ is another percussive, in-your-face track Cuban influenced track that commands the listener to get up and dance; the piano and horns come together to play the melody while the drums and percussion are their own beast that dominate the track. So It Is wraps up with ‘Mad,’ an appropriate finishing touch. Upbeat handclapping, New Orleans Street beats, and Mardi Gras Indian-esque chant from the band are all a joyous jubilee in which Preservation Hall exemplifies their civic pride, that culminates into something that personifies New Orleans.

So It Is is a shift from their usual approach of incorporating original compositions to their repertoire of New Orleans traditional jazz to fresh original compositions that are inspired by the Latin percussion and dance backbone of the Cuban musical tradition.

Preservation Hall Jazz Band’s So It Is is available on CD and mp3 and vinyl on their website, Louisiana Music Factory, iTunesGoogle Play, and Amazon.


More New Music Spotlights



For even more new music out of New Orleans this week, listen in to the New Orleans Music Show (11a-2p) with host Cole Williams on Tuesday, May 9 for her "New at Noon" segment as she features tracks from PJ Morton, Tank & the Bangas, Maurice Brown, Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, Ken Swartz, Flow Tribe, and Deltaphonic. 

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