Preservation Hall Jazz Band derives its name from the Preservation Hall venue located in New Orleans’ French Quarter. The band is known for performing traditional New Orleans-style jazz.
The musicians in the groups have varied during the years since the founding of the hall in the early 1960s. Bands of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band perform at Preservation Hall on 726 St. Peter Street in the French Quarter, and tour around the world for more than 150 days a year.
Preservation Hall’s doors were closed through the fall and winter of 2005 due to Hurricane Katrina. Although the building remained shut until spring of 2006, the band continued to tour while the Hall was closed.
==The early years - 1960s==
The popularity of traditional New Orleans jazz had waned leading up to the 1960s, putting many musicians out of work. There were few jazz connoisseurs actively capturing the traditions of New Orleans jazz during this time. New Orleans Jazz historian Bill Russell led the traditional jazz revival through his persistent documenting and recording. When Allan and Sandra Jaffe transformed the 726 venue into Preservation Hall in 1961, they made it a point to integrate and highlight jazz musicians who were present during the birth of jazz through hosting nightly performances. These musicians included George Lewis, and "Sweet" Emma Barrett, who led bands under their own names.
During the time of Preservation Hall’s incarnation, New Orleans was a racially segregated community under Jim Crow laws. Preservation Hall was among the few venues in New Orleans that welcomed both Caucasian and African-American musicians.
The nightly jazz concerts at Preservation Hall gathered a significant amount of press interest from its inception. As time went on, Allan believed the success of both the Hall and its mission of preservation would require these bands to tour, and in 1963, he organized the newly minted Preservation Hall Jazz Band, which was essentially the Kid Thomas Band (Kid Thomas Valentine, George Lewis, Louis Nelson, Emanuel Paul, Joe James, Joe “Twat” Butler, and Sammy Penn). Their first string of dates were set in the midwest and included a performance at the Guthrie Theater, a venue that future Preservation Hall Jazz Bands would later record at.
The aftermath of Kid Thomas’ tour sparked interest in the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and the rediscovery of New Orleans music began stretching beyond the United States. International interest in traditional New Orleans jazz led to the Preservation Hall Jazz Band’s second tour to Japan in 1964. The Japan tour featured the George Lewis Band.
During that same year, Allan sent Sweet Emma Barrett and her Preservation Hall Jazz Band to the Guthrie Theater to record a live performance. The subsequent recording turned into The Preservation Hall Jazz Band’s first record, ''Sweet Emma and Her Preservation Hall Jazz Band''. Later Paul Barbarin and his band was a regular at Preservation Hall with Lester Santiago, John Brunious and others.
In 1967, The Preservation Hall Jazz Band performed at a Bill Graham production in San Francisco, CA, which featured The Grateful Dead, Carlos Santana, and Steppenwolf (band). This Preservation Hall Jazz Band performance was led by Billie and De De Pierce and Their Preservation Hall Jazz Band. The introduction of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band to mainstream music festivals would prove to be only the beginning in future collaborations, as well as touring festival circuits.
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