Preservation Hall Jazz Band: old time jazz from New Orleans

Last year, I found myself in New Orleans for a rather epic birthday party. One place I knew I wanted to visit was Preservation Hall, (which I'd written about here), a legendary unamplified jazz club. It was everything I'd heard and more.

I bought the whole run of Preservation Hall CDs, and they've been in heavy rotation here. Of the bunch, my favorite is "Songs of New Orleans," and I always know it's going to be a good day when the random number generator smiles on me and shuffles a track from the double CD into my music player, especially if that track is Go to the Mardi Gras, which played about ten minutes ago and put a smile on my face that's certain to last the day through.

I've just noticed that there's a new(ish) Preservation Hall Jazz Band CD, American Legacies, which, alas, I can't say anything about, because the Amazon MP3 store won't sell it to me (I'm in Germany and my credit card is registered in the UK, so they shut me out).

Songs of New Orleans


  1. I’ve been to Preservation Hall too, and my impression was that the PHJB is a lot better live than on CD. For recorded Trad Jazz, I really like the stuff on the Good Times Jazz label from the late 50s… In particular the Firehouse Five. George Probert is a genius on the soprano sax.

  2. Such an institution.  My dad was a huge jazz fan and would haul me to Preservation Hall in the early 70s.  I took my son there a few years ago – I think it still has the same pillows on the floor.  The quarter has pretty much turned into a frat party – a lot of the best music has moved down to Frenchmen Street.

  3. “American Legacies” is brilliant.  A collaboration with The Del McCoury Band, it’s an outstanding blend of Bluegrass and Dixieland.

  4. They played at my family’s nightclub this summer! (FitzGerald’s in Berwyn, IL) and I shot this video. They’re a great time…

  5. When I want a taste of home, I keep on ending up with Dr. John. Either his completely insane first album Gris-Gris, or his much later Goin’ Back To New Orleans.

    Maybe it’s just because he was everywhere growing up in New Orleans in the seventies, I dunno.

  6. We saw them open for the Trucks-Tedeschi band in Chicago last August and they brought the house down. One of the few times when I saw the opening act cause the crowd to shut up and listen.

  7. You need to catch up on the rest of NO. Preservation Hall is just the tip of the iceberg. Watching the first two seasons of Treme is a good place to start. There, you’ll learn about Kermit Ruffins and John Boutte’ and the Rebirth Brass Band. Or you could just go here:

    and start listening. All the old and new guys appear eventually. I’ve seen a few people on their that I recognize from the street in NO, including a stunning clarinet player whose band is in Jackson Square every day. I don’t think she’s ever recorded.

    Dr. John did two albums in the 80’s, just the man and his piano. DJ Plays Mac Rebennack is the best of the two and kind of legendary. Dorothy, Mac’s Boogie and Saints can’t fail to bring a smile.

    Oh, and I spent an evening in the Preservation Hall some years ago when someone talked them into playing Summertime. It is hardly a traditional song, but they nailed it.

  8. I have not listened to the album, but I did have the opportunity to see  the Preservation Hall Jazz Band play with the Del McCoury Band at the Winnipeg Folk Festival. It truly  a surreal experience. 

  9. Hey, you got your Tom Waits in my Preservation hall jazz band!  . . . YOU got your Preservation hall jazz band in my Tom Waits!

    I’m no expert, but I think there are multiple bands – a touring one and a house one.  I’ll have to check out that album – as well as the stuff  posted above by pjcamp, but this one was always my favorite of theirs ever since I saw them live a few years ago (sadly not actually IN preservation hall)

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