Fridays Live: Preservation Hall Jazz Band
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Preservation Hall Jazz Band


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Deep Roots, Wide Influences: Preservation Hall and Tarriona "Tank" Ball Combine Forces

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Preservation Hall Jazz Band

Tonight on Fridays Live, SFJAZZ presents a New Orleans institution and a national treasure, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. Founded in 1961 to preserve and promote the traditional jazz of the Crescent City, the band has evolved over the years to incorporate new influences and collaborations, while staying true to its roots. The band’s current lineup features some of the finest musicians in New Orleans, who deliver an energetic and joyful performance that celebrates the legacy and future of jazz. For this exclusive broadcast, they return to their West Coast home accompanied by members of Tank and The Bangas.

America’s best traditional jazz band...

All About Jazz


August 1, 2023 | by Jonathan Curiel

Its room is no bigger than an airport lounge from the early 1900s. And its wooden floor boards are known to sag under the weight of visitors — a sign of just how old New Orleans' Preservation Hall really is. But the venue's unassuming interior belies the charged atmosphere that always erupts when the Preservation Hall Jazz Band performs there and catapults fans into a state of rousing pyrotechnics. Dancing. Shouting. Even fainting has occurred as jazz aficionados from around the world crowd into a venue that only holds about 100 people.

When the Preservation Hall Jazz Band appears at SFJAZZ from August 17-20, the only question will be how it conveys that same musical intensity in a different venue. The answer is straight out of the Preservation Hall playbook: They're adding even more of a New Orleans flavor. By performing with vocalist Tarriona "Tank" Ball, who fronts the New Orleans band called Tank and the Bangas, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band is spotlighting a singer whose sound is grounded in everything from hip-hop to R&B to, yes, jazz. A century ago, New Orleans' unique cultural milieu gave birth to jazz music. Ben Jaffe, who's the Preservation Hall Jazz Band's Creative Director and also its tuba and bass player, tells me that his group — and jazz itself — has to keep evolving new ways of expression even as they honor the jazz sound that's always echoed from New Orleans' streets, parlors, and other public byways. Ball, who was born and raised in New Orleans — just like the 52-year-old Jaffe — is a generation younger than Jaffe.

"Tank is representative of the new music movement in New Orleans," he says. "They (Tank and the Bangas) have a reverence for and deep connection to New Orleans' music and traditions but also have all these modern, contemporary influences and inspirations, and are bringing all those to the table. To me, that's what keeps traditions alive, and keeps things relevant." That relevance was on display last year when the Preservation Hall Jazz Band performed "The Star-Spangled Banner" with Ball before the tipoff of the NCAA men's basketball final at New Orleans' Caesars Superdome. Almost 70,000 people attended in person while 10 million watched on television and online, in what was one of the biggest non-jazz venues that Jaffe's group has ever performed for. The pressure to get the song just right — to have it swing with verve and pizzazz but also be respectful of its traditional orchestration — was immense. This was no recording session with multiple takes. This was live music in a social-media era where critics of all kinds could call them out in an instant.


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