New Orleans’ legendary Preservation Hall Jazz Band, a steward of the city’s vibrant cultural and musical heritage, has been touring regularly since 1963, bringing New Orleans music to the world. Tonight at 8 p.m. they will play at the Tabernacle in Oak Bluffs.
In 2008, Preservation Hall nears the end of its first half-century with renewed vigor, mindful of its role as keeper of the flame even as it helps to shape the music’s future. In recent months, the Hall has introduced new players, new releases and new projects — some that shine a light on the band’s storied past, and some that look toward a bright future.
This year, the Hall mourned the loss of trumpet player John Brunious Jr., who led the Preservation Hall for more than two decades. Carrying on a formidable family legacy of New Orleans’ music his nephew, 34-year-old Mark Braud leads the ensemble. Vocalist and saxophone player Clint Maedgen, who came to Preservation Hall from cabaret-act, The New Orleans Bingo! Show, also continues to bring the tradition forward — in January 2008, he sang the national anthem with the Preservation Hall at the prestigious BCS college football championship at the New Orleans Superdome.
Last spring, Preservation Hall Recordings released Made in New Orleans: The Hurricane Sessions, a treasure trove of previously unreleased recordings by the PHJB, some salvaged from New Orleans’ flooded Sea Saint Studios. It also included performance footage of the PHJB, from their first 1961 appearance on the Brinkley News Hour to a 2005 music video for their cover of the Kinks’ “Complicated Life,” featuring a carnivalesque pre-Katrina French Quarter bicycle parade. The Hurricane Sessions audio CD from the box set will be on sale at all performances on the July tour. This spring, creative director Ben Jaffe unveiled “Preservation Hall Presents,” the Hall’s latest recording project - a series of recordings by PHJB members that will showcase the many individual talents that make up the collective face of the venerable band.
Preservation Hall Jazz Band plays at 8 p.m. at the Tabernacle in Oak Bluffs to benefit the restoration fund. Tickets are $20, $35 for limited premium seats. For details, call 508-693-1730 or see mvcma.org.