Over 200 photographs by Shannon Brinkman
Interviews with, and biographies of, 48 Preservation Hall Band Members by Eve Abrams
Music by Preservation Hall Band
An iPad app presents an audiovisual oral history of a unique tradition of jazz music and culture in New Orleans, in the musicians’ own words.
Tom Sancton—from the Foreword: We had a sense that the Hall was more than a musical venue; it was an important force for reviving traditional jazz—not just the music as an art form, but the lives and culture of the musicians themselves. It was almost like a religious revival—a phoenix-like resurrection from the ashes. It was a sense that we are blowing on the embers of something that was dying and now may no longer be dying. We can help it live again.
Ben Jaffe—from the Introduction: At that time, jazz in general wasn’t being performed like it is today. In the 1960s in New Orleans, there were no jazz clubs. There were bars or burlesque shows that had a jazz accompaniment, and there may have been places on Bourbon Street that had more Dixieland-style music, but not dignified jazz like what’s going on here at Preservation Hall. Here, there are no distractions from the music. It’s funny; I saw this interview of my dad early on in 1961, and he says, “We’re not trying to hustle drinks and there are no strippers.” That was a real selling point! To be in the French Quarter and doing that was very progressive at the time. And to be featuring African American musicians with a predominantly white audience was unheard of. A venue dedicated to jazz made the statement that this music had artistic validity and cultural significance. This was pre–civil rights movement. It was still the Jim Crow South.
Leroy Jones: By the late ’70s, we were already beginning to innovate the brass band sound through different bass lines that Tuba Fats was laying out, and different riffs we were creating in the trumpet section. But the foundation is still within that tradition. If you were to lay down that same groove against what they’re doing today, you can hear the correlation between the two. It’s not that different. We were doing it the way we experienced in our day. If we’d grown up in the 1920s, where there was no other music being played on the radio that would have influenced our process of playing, then we would have played it the way the old Eureka, the old Onward, the old Tuxedo, the old Olympia Brass Band played it.
Darryl Adams: If you never play a second line in the street, you will never understand this music. You might think you do, but you don’t. You’ve never experienced the joy and the happiness if you’ve never experienced the funerals.
Shannon Powell: I add everything into the music. When I’m playing I don’t hold back nothing. I play the way I feel. And the result is that the music is always growing. It may sound different, but I always make it sound like it’s part of the traditional music.
Lucien Barbarin: My ancestors also played traditional jazz. So now I’m keeping the tradition alive and carrying on my ancestors’ legacy. Maybe one day I’ll be up on one of these pictures that’s on the walls of Preservation Hall. And maybe they’ll say, “Hey, remember that guy there …”
ISBN 9781937330262 iPad app publication scheduled for release April 2013. Please sign up to our mailing list (below right) for alerts and discounts.