Incredible NOLA Flavor at SFJazz Center: Preservation Hall Jazz Band
Ben Jaffe (double bass, tuba, vocals) grew up surrounded by jazz musicians, he toured with Preservation Hall Jazz Band since his birth. His parents founded the band when they went to New Orleans in 1960 and met some incredible musicians at an art gallery having an underground jam session. This was still during segregation and Jim Crow, African American pioneers of New Orleans jazz were bringing people together from all walks of life, colors, and beliefs.
This is Preservation Hall Jazz Band’s 60th-anniversary tour and they played 4 nights and 5 shows at the SFJAZZ Center for our delight. I went to the first night but easily could have gone to all of them. They are the kind of band that you know will give you a different performance every night.
Inclusiveness and the sense that we are all one, is exactly what it feels to be at a Preservation Hall Jazz Band concert. The musicians are so in sync with each other, I was mesmerized by their drummer Walter Harris, something about his style and energy was intriguing to me and after looking him up I found this awesome podcast all about his life and journey, highly recommended!
And if you find yourself obsessed with them like I am, there’s a documentary called A Tuba to Cuba that is pretty cool:
A TUBA TO CUBA Trailer (Documentary 2019)
They have shared the stage with artists like Beck, Tom Waits, Andrew Bird, Greg Dulli, Mos Def, Foo Fighters and many others. Their audience in SF was eclectic (there was a guy wearing a Slayer hoodie!) and mostly young at hearts over 40.
SF Jazz was a great venue for this show because of the perfect view of the stage from any seat. For a lot of folks it was their first concert since the beginning of the pandemic and the staff politely made sure everyone was wearing a mask at all times during the performance.
The highest moment was during the encore when everyone stood up to dance and clap, they took us to the church of jazz and good vibes. Treat yourself and go see them next time they’re in town, and definitely check out our city’s beautiful Jazz Center, they’ve got all kinds of incredible artists coming to play this winter!