Woo Hoo!!!! The Preservation Hall Jazz Band is still alive and kicking and they are on tour with new band members.
PHJB has been around for fifty years. My mother loved Preservation Hall. I think she first saw them on PBS. One of the first iterations of the band had a tuba player named Alan Jaffe, who also happened to be the founder of Preservation Hall Jazz Band. She loved that tuba. Mr. Jaffe passed away but the Hall and the Band carried on. She introduced me to them and hey, how can you not love New Orleans style jazz?
I have since been to the Hall in New Orleans twice including once on a lark, when Matt and I took my mom to New Orleans and we went to see a show. She had a ball.
So I was tickled when I learned they were coming to Baltimore. The newly formed band is headed by Ben Jaffe, the founder’s son. He plays tuba and stand up bass. He pulled together some of the best musicians in New Orleans and they put out a new recording. How could I resist? By the time we found out, the show was a few days away but we got great seats.
What bothered me is that in a setting like a symphony hall, you can’t get up and dance. Everyone sits. This is not sitting music. There can be no sadness when New Orleans style jazz is playing. There is toe tapping, there is clapping, there is dancing. Even for the sad songs. These bands play for funerals and it is a celebration. But alas, a symphony hall crimped my style.
Finally, one of the band members got everyone to stand up and clap and dance. That lasted for a few songs and then all the old folks got tuckered out and had to sit down again. One older gentleman was so incensed at the rowdy behavior that had been fomented that he stalked out giving them the old wave of the hands saying, I’m done with this. Seriously.
Well, my joy was not daunted. We clapped and danced even if we were just sitting. I loved all of the musicians but my greatest joy was watching the band’s tuba player dance around while playing his sousaphone. Talk about some lungs. He was marvelous. I wish my mom had been able to see him. She would have loved it.