Jazz Preservation Hall Jazz Band at Red Rocks
New Orleans’ been providing listeners with rollicking traditional jazz for more than half a century. For the most part, the formula for success has been consistent: Masterful artists, mostly veterans of the Crescent City, breathe life into jazz classics that date back to the era of swing pioneer Louis Armstrong.
But lately, there have been some changes to the band’s approach, and along with that, significant creative rewards. The new PHJB album, “So It Is,” is heavily influenced by Afro-Cuban rhythms, and the results are as invigorating as they are danceable. The traditional acoustic, hornbased lineup is still there, but infused with a renewed energy. The alloriginal compositions, some co-written with Dan
of the rock group Semisonic, recall the New Orleans brass bands as well as contemporary and global styles. According to bassist and tuba player
who also serves as the band’s creative director, an invitation to perform in Cuba altered everyone’s direction.
“For a band like ours to go to the Havana Jazz Festival, well, it’s one of those important musical meccas,” he said. “We began preparing ourselves for it musically. When bands come to New Orleans, you begin to know who’s come prepared, who’s immersed in the history. Those are the people who we wanted to be when we went to Cuba. On many occasions (in Cuba) we were writing music on the street. Everything was kind of heading in this rhythmic direction. It had this strong AfricanCuban feeling.”
Besides the PHJB’s new sound, the group, whose members range in age from 20s to 80s, have been performing in more rockoriented environments, like their scheduled July 11 appearance at Red Rocks, opening for Beck. Is this a conscious attempt to expose younger listeners to the traditional music of New Orleans?
“Yes and no. Those things don’t present themselves,” said Jaffe. “You have to constantly introduce yourself to audiences. Otherwise, you’ll look around and wonder where is your audience. It would be painful for me to watch New Orleans music die. To be able to share it with the world - I’ll go to any extreme to get this music to people.”
(Preservation Hall Jazz Band, 7:30 p.m. July 11, Red Rocks Amphitheatre. Go to redrocksonline.com for details.)
Another New Orleans hero, Dr. John, opens up for The Avert Brothers at Red Rocks on July 9, and plays City Park for free that same evening . ... Also on July 9: Organ genius Lonnie Smith appears at Dazzle . ... The Diana Castro Band plays at Denver’s El Chapultepec on July 11 . ... Colorado pianist Adam Bodine takes to the stage of Nocturne on July 13 . ... The Winter Park Jazz Festival takes place at Hideaway Park July 15-16, featuring more. Get details at playwinterpark.com . ...
collaborates with the Colorado Symphony at Red Rocks on July 18. Bret Saunders (bretsaunders@ kbco.com) 97.3 FM. can be heard from 6 to 11 a.m. weekdays at KBCO