“In New Orleans, a centuries-old musical tradition continues as it always has, in the streets, at parties in people’s homes, and in classic venues such as Preservation Hall. Founded in 1961 when Allan and Sandra Jaffe took charge of some nightly jam sessions that were happening in an art gallery on St. Peter Street, the Hall came into existence because the top jazz musicians in the city were being neglected by promoters who only wanted the new thing, which at the time was rock and roll. Within two years of opening, Preservation Hall had become an institution, and in 1963, the Jaffes organized a road show, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band (PHJB), that continues to play 100 or more concerts all over the world every year. Now under the direction of Allan and Sandra’s tuba-playing son Benjamin Jaffe, the group will appear at the Lobero Theatre on Friday, June 10.
I caught up with Ben Jaffe by phone as the group prepared for a show in Fort Worth. It’s been a busy spring for the PHJB, as they have been opening for fellow New Orleans residents Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros on their tour since early March. The Lobero show is all their own and represents the southernmost stop Pres Hall will make in California this summer. The Lobero is a perfect place to check out how the band has reinvented itself and the New Orleans style of music. Listening to their most recent recordings, it’s impossible not to notice that, without losing any of their authenticity, the group has broadened its range and that now they encompass many styles of jazz and funk and rhythm and blues, all of it saturated with the unmistakable beats and sounds of a traditional New Orleans ensemble.“