Inquiring Minds

Everybody Loves the Preservation Hall Jazz Band

Houston does not have a musical ensemble anywhere close to the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, but then again, no other city does either. Based in a cozy former art gallery not far from Jackson Square in the French Quarter, this old-timey brass band has become one of one of America's leading pan-generational cultural ambassadors.

Not only have they entertained kings and queens and heads of state, but they've appeared on 60 Minutes and jammed with the likes of Steve Earle, the Del McCoury Band (on 2011's American Legacies album) and My Morning Jacket. Most recently, Preservation Hall became the Foo Fighters' headquarters during the New Orleans-set episode of HBO's rock-travel series Sonic Highways.

Benjamin Jaffe, whose parents Allen & Sandra Jaffe founded the band in the early '60s and who now serves as its tubist and artistic director, says Preservation Hall does some 100 tour dates a year to go alongside 150 dates in their hometown and extensive outreach work through the Preservation Hall Foundation. Like the rest of New Orleans itself, the band was almost wiped out by Hurricane Katrina almost a decade ago but, also like the city, has made a remarkable recovery and is "going stronger today, 50 years after it was established, than it ever has," Jaffe marvels.

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Chris Gray has been Music Editor for the Houston Press since 2008. He is the proud father of a Beatles-loving toddler named Oliver.
Contact: Chris Gray