The usual performance venue for New Orleans’ Preservation Hall Jazz Band is not your typical concert hall. In the French Quarter, the 620-square-foot space holds about 100 listeners who squeeze onto wood benches or stand shoulder to shoulder in the back of the unair-conditioned room. If Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium is the Mother Church of Country Music, then Preservation Hall is the Mother Church of Jazz.
Founded 54 years ago, the band has a mission to preserve the traditional jazz of New Orleans. Benjamin Jaffe is the bassist, creative director, and son of band founders Allan and Sandra Jaffe. “I think the band is one of the most honest reflections of New Orleans,” Benjamin says. “Preservation Hall represents the creative community of New Orleans. It represents the food, the art, the lifestyle. It’s more than music. And that’s why you must experience Preservation Hall.
The amazing thing is that this traditional jazz—rooted in blues, ragtime, and marches—is still being played at all. Without Preservation Hall taking the New Orleans sound to new audiences, it might have disappeared as an art form. The band plays over 150 nights a year, from the White House to the Far East, sharing the stage with artists like Dr. John, Mos Def, Arcade Fire, and the Foo Fighters. Members of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band are true keepers of the New Orleans flame. But don’t take our word for it. Sit on one of those wood benches and listen for yourself. preservationhall.com