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Preservation Hall Jazz Band: New Orleans Jazz at Its Finest

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A perennial favorite, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band celebrates its 48th anniversary and its 19th appearance at Irvine Barclay Theatre with its signature brand of New Orleans jazz on Friday, July 10, 2009 at 8pm.

Since opening its doors to the public in 1961, it has been the mission of Preservation Hall to showcase the national treasures of traditional New Orleans jazz music. Forty-eight years later, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band still represents the best opportunity for music fans the world over to experience the planet's happiest music. Boasting a direct lineage from the earliest incarnations of New Orleans jazz, the current roster of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band features some of the Crescent City's finest and most exciting musicians. These unforgettable, multi-generational players proudly carry on the traditions passed forward from the most prolific jazz heritage on earth.

With the release of their latest CD, New Orleans Preservation, Vol. 1, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band has insured that traditional New Orleans Jazz will continue to play a vital role in the American musical landscape. Boasting an impressive collection of classic gems of traditional New Orleans jazz as sung by Charlie Gabriel, Mark Braud, Walter Payton, and Clint Maedgen, this album faithfully reproduces all the energy and spirit that has made this all-star lineup an international sensation for almost fifty years.

The Preservation Hall Jazz Band began touring in 1963 and for many years there were several bands successfully touring under the name Preservation Hall. Many of the band's charter members performed with the pioneers who invented jazz in the early twentieth century, including Buddy Bolden, Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong, and Bunk Johnson. Band leaders over the band's history include the brothers Willie and Percy Humphrey, husband and wife Billie and De De Pierce, famed pianist Sweet Emma Barrett, and in the modern day Wendall and John Brunious. These founding artists and dozens of others passed on the lessons of their music to a younger generation who now follow in their footsteps.

The Preservation Hall Jazz Band derives its name from Preservation Hall, the venerable music venue located in the heart of New Orleans' French Quarter, founded in 1961 by Allan and Sandra Jaffe. The band has traveled worldwide, spreading their mission to nurture and perpetuate the art form of New Orleans jazz. Whether performing at Carnegie Hall or Lincoln Center, for British royalty or the King of Thailand, this music embodies a joyful, timeless spirit. Under the auspices of current director Ben Jaffe, the son of the founders Allan and Sandra, Preservation Hall continues in the modern day, as a venue, band, and record label. (Fortunately, the Hall did not sustain major damage during Hurricane Katrina.)

The building that houses Preservation Hall has housed many businesses over the years, including a tavern during the War of 1812, a photo studio, and an art gallery. It was during the years of the art gallery that owner Larry Bornstein began holding informal jam sessions for his close friends. Out of these sessions grew the concept of Preservation Hall. The intimate venue, whose weathered exterior has been untouched over its history, is a living embodiment of its original vision. To this day, Preservation Hall has no air conditioning, or other typical accoutrements—it strictly welcomes people of all ages interested in having one of the last pure music experiences on earth.

The band members performing at the Barclay include: Mark Braud, trumpet, vocals; Clint Maedgen, saxophone/vocals; Rickie Monie, piano; Frank Demond, trombone, vocals; Joseph Lastie, Jr, drums; Walter Payton, bass/vocals; Benjamin Jaffe, tuba; Charlie Gabriel, clarinet.

One of the hallmarks of a Preservation Hall Jazz Band concert is the participation of audience members in the concert finale. Concert-goers are invited to wear their Mardi Gras finery and strut their stuff in a Bourbon Street-style parade with parasols in hand as the band plays “When The Saints Go Marching In."

The Preservation Hall Jazz Band is:

Ben Jaffe/Creative Director & Tuba: As son of co-founders Allan and Sandra Jaffe, Ben has lived his whole life with the rhythm of the French Quarter pulsing through his veins. Raised in the company of New Orleans' greatest musicians, Ben returned from his collegiate education at Oberlin College in Ohio to play with the group and assume his father's duties as Director of Preservation Hall. Today he serves as Creative Director for both PHJB and the Hall itself, where he has spearheaded such programs as the New Orleans Musicians Hurricane Relief Fund.

Mark Braud/Trumpet and Vocals: As nephew to two former PHJB leaders, Wendell and John Brunious, Jr., Mark is proud to further his family's musical legacy in the company of so many historic players. Beginning his career playing with the Olympia Kids, a young players' offshoot of the famous Olympia Brass Band, Mark has gone on to record, tour, and play with New Orleans legends of both traditional jazz and R&B, including Eddie Bo, Henry Butler, Harry Connick Jr., and Dr. Michael White.

Charlie Gabriel/Clarinet, Saxophone and Vocals: The musical heritage of Charlie Gabriel can be traced back as far back as the 1850s. Great-grandson of New Orleans bass player Narcesse Gabriel, grandson of New Orleans cornet player Martin Joseph, and son of New Orleans drummer and clarinetist Martin Manuel Gabriel, Charlie is truly a living legend. At seventy-six years old, the extensive list of musicians with whom he's played includes well-known PHJB alumni Kid Howard, Kid Sheik, Jim Robinson, and George Lewis.

Frank Demond – Trombone: Frank Demond has been playing with PHJB for over forty years. By the time he was first asked to sit in with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band on a visit to New Orleans in 1965, Frank Demond had already played with a host of New Orleans greats in his hometown of Los Angeles: Johnny St. Cyr, banjo master who'd played with both Louis Armstrong and King Oliver; Alton Purnell, the pianist who had been born in the building that would become Preservation Hall; George Lewis, legendary clarinetist and eventual Preservation Hall fixture. After sitting in on that fateful visit, Frank relocated to the city of his musical inspiration and has been a permanent member of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band ever since.

Clint Maedgen/Reeds and Vocals: Though Clint is best known as leader of multi-media alt.cabaret group The New Orleans Bingo! Show, he has been in love with the sound of traditional New Orleans jazz since he was a small child. After studying with clarinet innovator Alvin Baptiste at Southern University in Lafayette, Clint returned to New Orleans' French Quarter where he cemented his reputation as an artist and collaborator through an ongoing series of eclectic and experimental musical ensembles. As a full-time member of the PHJB, he brings an infectious passion to both his playing and singing.

Joe Lastie, Jr./Drums: Born and raised in the Lower Ninth Ward, Joe comes from a long line of family members equally dedicated to music and the church. Having played his first job with a rhythm section backing the Desire Community Choir, he would go on to study jazz with Willie Metcalf at the Dryer Street YMCA with classmates Wynton and Branford Marsalis. After a brief move with his family to Queens, New York, Joe returned to New Orleans where he was invited to substitute on drums at Preservation Hall in 1989. He's been a regluar with the band ever since.

Walter Payton/Bass and Vocals: Born and raised in New Orleans' Uptown neighborhoods, Walter's first brushes with Preservation Hall came in the early sixties when Allan Jaffe would lend him his sousaphone for gigs with the Eureka, Apollo, and Olympia Brass Bands. After receiving advanced instruction from Robert Rohe at Xavier College, Walter went on to perform on several hit records, including Lee Dorsey’s “Working in a Coal Mine” and Aaron Neville’s “Tell It Like It Is.” Walter Payton has also been a teacher in the New Orleans public school system for twenty-five years, where he had the opportunity to instruct a young Ben Jaffe in the ways of the bass.

Rickie Monie/Piano: Born and raised in New Orleans’ Ninth Ward to jazz loving church musicians, Rickie was inundated at an early age with the recordings of such great jazz and gospel pianists as Art Tatum, Oscar Peterson, and Teddy Wilson. After majoring in woodwind instruments at Dillard University, Rickie turned back to the piano and picked up work in every style of music. In 1982, Monie got his first call from Preservation Hall, to substitute for the legendary resident pianist Sweet Emma Barret after she suffered a stroke. To the delight of audiences around the world, he’s stayed onboard ever since.

This story appears courtesy of All About Jazz Publicity.
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