For a night of serious jazz it can’t get any better than the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, coming to the Riverwalk Center in Breckenridge on June 28, 2012. Pres Hall traces its roots back 50 years to the founding of the Preservation Hall venue in the French Quarter, and beyond that to the grandmothers and grandfathers of the New Orleans jazz tradition.
It is the second concert in this summer’s Blue River Series from the Breckenridge Music Festival, which provides diverse programming of popular music to the masses, though the organization is best known for its classical summer repertoire.
Preservation Hall, the place, and Preservation Hall, the band are both in the midst of celebrating their 50th Anniversary, a celebration which, in addition to travel dates, has included hometown concerts, presentations, and a yearlong exhibit at the Louisiana State Museum featuring rare photographs, artifacts, music and video from the Hall’s archives. The original Preservation Hall Jazz Band played with many of the early greats, including Louis Armstrong and Jelly Roll Morton.
“Our musical routes date back to the earliest days of jazz when what we played was the popular music of its day,” said tuba player and creative director Ben Jaffe, whose parents, Allan and Sandra, founded the Preservation Hall venue in 1961 with the goal of preserving and spreading the New Orleans jazz tradition. “Preservation Hall has a very unique, identifiable sound,” he added. “I like to tell people we play New Orleans jazz …or contemporary old time jazz.”
The seven PHJB band members have music-making in their blood. “One of the amazing things about New Orleans is how music is passed from generation to generation,” Jaffe said. “Every member of the Preservation Hall band comes from a musical family. Some go back three, four and five generations. The strength of a tradition can be measured in how the community values it,” he added. “In New Orleans, we value our traditions. Our traditions are who we are.”
Pres Hall has played Breck before, calling the town “a beautiful setting” and the Riverwalk Center “a gorgeous venue,” perched picturesquely as it is on the Blue River at the center of town.
Concert-goers can expect to hear songs from all of the band’s projects. “We always like our shows to be entertaining and a reflection of who we are now,” Jaffe said. Who they are now is a New Orleans jazz band that’s stayed true to its roots, while at the same time exploring new directions like collaborative projects with artists including Del McCoury, Jim James, Pete Seeger, and Ani Difranco. Later this year, however, the PHJB will embark upon a new solo project.
“Every time we play a concert or work on a project, we are doing it to honor the musicians who came before us,” Jaffe said. “To me, an anniversary is not only a time to reflect on the past, but also a time to celebrate the future.”
Tickets are $30 advance for general admission; $35 day-of for general admission; and $45 for premium reserved seating, available in person at the Riverwalk Center box office at 150 W. Adams, 970-547-3100 or online at www.BreckenridgeRiverwalkCenter.com. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the concert starts at 7:30 p.m.
Click here for other Breckenridge Music Festival concert dates, including the Blue River Series and classical programming.