Preservation Hall shines on first album in 50 years

The Associated PressJuly 26, 2013 

Artist: Preservation Hall Jazz Band

Album: “That’s It!”

Label: Sony/Legacy

With high-profile collaborations at Bonnaroo (Jack Johnson) and the Grammys (The Black Keys), the Preservation Hall Jazz Band has been reaching out to a wider audience. “That’s It!,” co-produced by Jim James of the indie rock band My Morning Jacket, continues this trend as the first album of new compositions in PHJB’s 50-plus years.

Preservation Hall’s original mission was to preserve the authentic sounds of New Orleans jazz by presenting musicians with direct links to jazz’s founding fathers in the early 20th century. Now under the leadership of tuba player Ben Jaffe, whose parents founded the Hall, the band’s current lineup is preserving New Orleans jazz in the 21st century with a fresh-sounding repertoire that keeps the brass-heavy instrumentation from the past.

The title track gets things off to an exuberant start with blaring horn section blasts prefacing Mark Braud’s blistering trumpet solo. Some tunes sound as if they were lifted from the band’s standard repertoire, including the gospel-inspired “Dear Lord (Give Me the Strength)” and “Come With Me,” a love song to the Crescent City sung by 81-year-old reedman Charlie Gabriel.

The spooky “Rattlin’ Bones” with trombonist Freddie Lonzo’s gravelly vocals evokes Dr. John’s R&B style. “August Nights” is a smoky ballad with Clint Maedgen providing sultry vocals and Braud playing muted trumpet. But most of all what the band preserves is the infectious joy of New Orleans jazz.

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