_ Wayne Parry, Associated Press
“Preservation Hall Jazz Band 50th Anniversary Collection” (Columbia/Legacy)
This four-CD collection with 58 tracks recorded between 1962 and 2010, including five previously unreleased recordings rescued from a flooded studio after Hurricane Katrina, chronicles the remarkable tale of the tiny French Quarter art gallery that was transformed by owners Allan and Sandra Jaffe into Preservation Hall, an international mecca for lovers of traditional New Orleans-style jazz..
This collection includes six tracks from the four landmark Preservation Hall LPs recorded in 1962 by Atlantic Records co-founder Nesuhi Ertegun that brought wider exposure to the city’s overlooked early jazz pioneers such as the sweet-toned clarinetist George Lewis, trumpeter De De Pierce and his wife, pianist-vocalist Billie Pierce, and trumpeter Kid Punch Miller.
In the `70s and `80s, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band became an international sensation with a touring lineup led by the Humphrey brothers, trumpeter-vocalist Percy and clarinetist Willie, that recorded four albums for CBS. That band gets the toes tapping on such selections as “Oh, Didn’t He Ramble” and “When The Saints Go Marchin’ In.”
As the older generations passed, the PHJB rejuvenated itself with musicians who embrace the tradition while reaching out to different genres. The collection includes intriguing post-2000 collaborations with a growling Tom Waits on the Mardi Gras Indian chant “Tootie Ma Is A Big Fine Thing”; Del McCoury’s bluegrass band on “I’ll Fly Away,” and folk legend Pete Seeger and his grandson Tao Rodriguez-Seeger on the civil rights anthem “We Shall Overcome.”
As the collection’s co-producer, Ben Jaffe, who became the hall’s director after his father’s death in 1987, insisted that the tracks not be arranged chronologically _ a move that only underscores the cross-generational links and how timeless and vital this music remains.
_ Charles J. Gans, Associated Press