On September 3, Preservation Hall Jazz Band drew in a packed house at The Ridgefield Playhouse bringing with them the soul of New Orleans jazz and heritage. With merely less than a week since the devastating Hurricane Ida hitting New Orleans, their keep-your-head-up spirit radiated from their voices and music. (Links to NOLA hurricane relief fundraisers are included at the end of the article)
Preservation Hall is celebrating a big milestone this year. It’s the 60th anniversary since their founding in 1961 after Allan and Sandra Jaffe inherited a hybrid art & music gallery space on St. Peter Street in the French Quarter. Today the band is carries on a family tradition being led by Allan’s son, Ben Jaffe. Much like the nightly concerts put on by members of the Preservation Hall collective at their New Orleans venue, the show took us through various flavors of the New Orleans jazz tradition with the spice of their own touch blending other cultural music styles in their arrangements.
The second set brought a special surprise for the audience, in a way a blessing introduced by Hurricane Ida. Jaffe walked out on stage with a clarinet to say some introductory words, referencing a musician who, because of the hurricane timing, evacuated New Orleans with the band rather than other possible alternatives. A living legend of the Preservation Hall collective, 89-years-young Charlie Gabriel, was brought out for the entirety of the remainder of the show. Gabriel’s passion for the saxophone, music, and comradery for his bandmates gave him a youthful but refined liveliness as he stood alongside his bandmates on stage.
That French Quarter street music feel had many toes tapping the whole night and as the heat grew on stage the theater was brought to their feet, seemingly shaking loose the weight of the past year. The band capped the end of the night with two burners, “La Malanga” and their Cuba-inspired composition “Keep Your Head Up.”
Preservation Hall Jazz Band Setlist:
Set 1: Tin Roof Blues, One Hundred Fires, Rich Women, Tootie Ma, So It Is, Santiago, That’s It!
Set 2: Come With Me/Convergence, Dear Lord, I Am, La Malanga, Keep Your Head Up
In the wake of Hurricane Ida, there are several ways to contribute to help New Orleans musicians and the NOLA community in Hurricane Ida relief:
- Preservation Hall Emergency Relief Fund – Run through the Preservation Hall Foundation, this supports local musicians in need.
- Feed the Second Line – helping musicians and NOLA culture bearers in need of food and resources
- Covenant House – provides services for NOLA youth and young families in need
- Culture Aid NOLA – working to provide meals to those in need during hurricane recovery
- Mutual Aid Response Network – provides relief and recovery during storm disasters for New Orleans residents