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Arts & Culture

Preservation Hall Jazz Band Carries On A New Orleans Music Tradition

: Courtesy photo
Preservation Hall Jazz Band

Arts San Antonio is bringing the Preservation Hall Jazz Band to the Charline McCombs Empire Theater Wednesday night.  We spoke with tuba/banjo player/percussionist and vocalist Ben Jaffe.

"We’re going to be playing some selections from our newest album, 'That’s It,' and we’re also going to be performing some songs that we only pull out specifically this time of year, specifically holiday songs that are unique to New Orleans," Jaffe said.

Jaffe said the difference between Preservation Hall and some other bands is New Orleans, but it’s also the players themselves.

"You know our clarinet playe, rhe’s a fourth-generation New Orleans musician, he’s 81 years old," Jaffe said. "His family’s been playing music in New Orleans for the last 150 years."

As is the case with most people from New Orleans, Katrina changed his perception of his hometown.

"Absolutely," Jaffe said. "I gained a deeper and more complete appreciation for what this city is because it's so much more than just four walls and a roof."   

Jaffe’s parents established the Preservation Hall Jazz Band in 1961 and he’s carried on the tradition.

"All I had to do was walk down the street from where I was growing up and I could hear these pioneers, these masters of New Orleans music seven nights a week."