By Mary Tinti
July 23, 2012
The musicians who comprise the Preservation Hall Jazz Band are self-proclaimed ambassadors of New Orleans Jazz; their forthcoming performance at the Boston Summer Arts Weekend on Friday, July 27th fulfills their charge to bring the elation, good times, and great music of their hometown to audiences the world over. Touring since 1963, the band – named for the iconic French Quarter music hall that is one of the last bastions of no-frills, all-about-the-music gigs – has known many configurations over the years and the current performers strive to honor the legacy passed down to them from the band’s founders.
When asked to write a few words about the PHJB and what Bostonians can look forward to, I couldn’t help but think of the former jazz band instructor at my high school – Michael Breaux – a native Louisianan who helped me hone my own trombone skills years ago, and wonder what he might say about this legendary band…
“As a child growing up in South Louisiana, I was exposed to many, many types of music: Cajun, Zydeco, Big Band Jazz, and New Orleans Jazz in all the many forms that fall under that umbrella term. All of those different types of music (along with all of the popular and classical music I was studying) fell on my ears and found a way into my musical heart. The Preservation Hall is a national treasure….”
“The phrase, "Laissez le bon temps rouler!" (translation: “Let the good times roll!”) embodies the spontaneous and exuberant essence of that music” and the PHJB personifies “that joyous tradition.” (Mr. Breaux went on to confess his great desire that a bit of New Orleans Jazz will forever find its way into the music that he performs and passes on to his students, in whom he hopes “to preserve the joy of making music” for their entire lives.)
But you don’t have to be from Louisiana to be a fan of the contagious spirit and sounds of the PHJB whose members, according to Preservation Hall's Creative Director Ben Jaffe, were all “born and raised in New Orleans.” He goes on to share, “the music we play was handed down to us from the generation before and the generation before that, all the way back to before there was jazz! We’re proud of our history, our community, our traditions…there’s no place on earth like New Orleans.”
Pride in one’s past and love of city and family are exactly what the contagious spirit and sounds of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band are all about. So get ready Boston, the good times are about to roll…
PS – Congratulations to Ben Jaffe who, along with his wife Jeanette, celebrated the birth of their child this week. Life is good, indeed!
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Mary is a Koch Curatorial Fellow at the DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum. On her blog, Dress For Sports, she says, "I love innovative public art, creative design, and unique intersections of architecture, sculpture, and installation. And I love stumbling upon cool collisions of art and everyday life." Mary has a Ph.D. in art history from Rutgers University.
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