Preservation Hall Jazz Band Documentary

Preservation Hall Jazz Band is the name for numerous groups of Dixieland Jazz and traditional New Orleans Jazz music at Preservation Hall in New Orleans, Louisiana, and on tours as organized by the Preservation Hall. The purpose of the Hall has been to preserve the heritage of Dixieland and jazz music born in New Orleans and common to the Riverboats plying the Mississippi River, which spread throughout the South until the early 20th Century.

Preservation HallEdit


The interior of the Preservation Hall is a time capsule of New Orleans Jazz history. Photo: Brian Ross

Where Do They Play?Edit

The Preservation Hall Jazz Bands perform at Preservation Hall on 726 St. Peter Street in the French Quarter, and on tour around the world for more than 150 days a year.

Their home in New Orleans is a tiny space adjacent to Pat O'Briens, one of the most famous bars in the French Quarter. It only accomodates around 100 people, and has no air conditioning.

The walls and the band stand are steeped with the history of the place. An inverted brass bowler hat sits in front of the band (See photo, left), to take request money for the band.

The famous sign in the back reads "Traditional, $2.00, Others, $5.00, The Saints (referring to When the Saints Go Marching In), $10.00.

Hurricane KatrinaEdit

Hurricane Katrina forced Preservation Hall to close from the Fall of 2005 until April 2006, the band continued to tour while the Hall was closed. The Hurricane though took a greater toll on the Hall than just the shuttering of the building. Five of the regular players lost their homes, and several of them moved out of town and did not want to come back. They played on the road, but the Hall was light its crew of nightly performers.

When the Hall reopened, under the continuing direction of Benjamin Jaffe, son of Allan Jaffe, its founder and longtime steward, to a slightly different arrangement. The Hall did not feature the house band nightly. Some nights it went dark, owing to the slow comeback of the French Quarter's tourism. The younger Mr. Jaffe also introduced better marketing, and a few evenings where other bands played in the Hall. He has been careful to augment, not stray from, the longstanding traditions of the Hall and its mission to preserve New Orleans musical heritage.

Hall 101Edit

Music groups performing at Preservation Hall predated the name "Preservation Hall Jazz Band". The late Allan Jaffe, a young tuba player who had taken over running the hall, organized tours for the musicians who often performed there, naming the band after the venue. He often played tuba in the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. His son, Ben Jaffe, a double bass player and tubist, now leads and performs with the band.

The band has been touring the United States for more than twenty-five years. They seek to preserve the distinctive music that evolved in New Orleans and to bring it to contemporary audiences.

What Kind of Music Do They "Preserve?"Edit

Although similar music sometimes is described now as "Dixieland Jazz", there are distinct characteristics of traditional New Orleans jazz that are not shared among performances often bearing the "Dixieland" label. The latter often is considered as commercial exploitation and distortion of a pure tradition and, therefore, a strict differentiation between the two is made by admirers of what they recognize as "New Orleans Jazz". One may find the term used among traditional New Orleans musicians prior to the change in perception.

The band made a brief appearance in the 1965 film The Cincinnati Kid, including a close-up of pianist and vocalist Emma Barrett.

In 2006, the band was awarded the National Medal of Arts. In 2007, the band accepted an invitation to participate in Goin' Home: A Tribute to Fats Domino, contributing their version of "When The Saints Go Marching In", with Theresa Andersson.

Preservation Hall VideosEdit

Here are a sampling of videos of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. For a more complete look, see Preservation Hall Jazz Band Videos

Alphabetical lists of personnelEdit

Current members (2009)Edit

Historic membersEdit

A partial listing of the musicians who have played under the "Preservation Hall Jazz Band" name includes:

Partial discographyEdit

  • 1964 Sweet Emma and Her Preservation Hall Jazz Band
  • 1966 Billie and De De Pierce and Their PHJB
  • 1977 New Orleans, Vol. 1
  • 1982 New Orleans, Vol. 2
  • 1982 When the Saints Go Marchin' In (New Orleans, Vol. 3)
  • 1987 New Orleans, Vol. 4
  • 1989 The Best of Preservation Hall Jazz Band
  • 1992 Live
  • 1996 In the Sweet Bye and Bye
  • 1997 Preservation Hall Jazz Band of New Orleans, La
  • 1998 Because of You
  • 2001 Marching Down Bourbon Street
  • 2004 Preservation Hall Hot 4 With Duke Dejan
  • 2004 Shake That Thing
  • 2005 Sweet Emma
  • 2005 Songs of New Orleans
  • 2006 Preservation Hall - Live At the 2006 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival
  • 2007 The Essential Preservation Hall Jazz Band
  • 2010 Preservation: An Album to Benefit Preservation Hall & The Preservation Hall Music Outreach Program

References Edit

External linksEdit