To celebrate its 50th anniversary, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band on July 6 will bring back the best of New Orleans-style jazz through its 22nd appearance at the Irvine Barclay Theatre.
The Preservation Hall Jazz Band drew its name from Preservation Hall — a venerable music venue located in New Orleans' French Quarter. Allan and Sandra Jaffe founded the Hall in 1961 to preserve New Orleans Jazz, which had lost much of its popularity to modern jazz and rock 'n' roll.
Many of the band's initial members performed with the likes of Buddy Bolden, Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong, and Bunk Johnson — the preeminent jazz architects of the early 20th century.
"In the first Preservation Hall band that formed in 1961, the members were second generation New Orleans jazz musicians," current Creative Director Ben Jaffe, the son of founders Allan and Sandra, said in a phone interview. "They brought with them their history and their musical knowledge and that's something that we carry on."
Now, 50 years later, the Preservation Hall venue, band, and record label remain deeply committed to one mission: nurturing and perpetuating the art form of New Orleans Jazz.
"Over the years, we've always attracted a younger and new audience into our family, which I think is one of our great achievements, being able to always evolve with the next generation of music goers," Jaffe said.
"We are always in the midst of creating something new whether it's with Paul McCartney, Pete Seeger, or Tom Wade. We are always looking to collaborate, to keep what we do interesting as musicians."
In years past, Preservation Hall Jazz Band has garnered acclaim among diverse audiences performing worldwide at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, for the British monarchy and the King of Thailand.
"It's very rare that we will have somebody show up with no knowledge of who we are," Jaffe said. "Although, I love those moments when someone sees us for the first time. Actually, it's one of the great things in life, to see somebody enjoy you for the first time."
The seven-piece Preservation Hall Jazz Band playing The Barclay will consist of the following members: Mark Braud (trumpet, vocals), Charlie Gabriel (clarinet, vocals), Freddie Lonzo (trombone), Rickie Monie (piano), Clint Maedgen (tenor saxophone, vocals), and Joseph Lastie, Jr. (drums).
Also joining the band in Irvine will be Southern California native Frank Demond (trombone), one of the eldest members of Preservation Hall Jazz Band. In addition, the band will introduce Ronell Johnson, who will be taking over on tuba for Ben Jaffe, the Creative Director of Preservation Hall Jazz Band.
According to Jaffe, the set list will include the band's original songs, as well as New Orleans Jazz classics like "When The Saints Go Marching In" — a concert finale that invites audience participation. Wearing their Mardi Gras finery, concert-goers can strut their stuff in a Bourbon Street-style parade with parasols in hand, while the band plays along.
"I don't like to think of what we do as anything new, but the band is constantly evolving," Jaffe said. "For a tradition to survive, you have a natural obligation to leave your own mark on that tradition."
"Preservation Hall has continued to carry the cultural torch, so to speak. We were very fortunate to be given this musical tradition by the generations before us. We feel a deep, deep obligation to carry on this tradition and pass it on to another generations, so it [New Orleans Jazz music] will be here when we are gone."
If You Go
Who: Preservation Hall Jazz Band
When: 8 p.m. July 6
Where: Irvine Barclay Theatre, 4242 Campus Drive, Irvine
Cost: Tickets range from $33 to $45; $100 Gold Seats include VIP seating, admission to the Gold Bar, and complimentary beverage
More information: http://www.thebarclay.org.