Monday, March 26, 2007

Soulful and smooth players at the Municipal Auditorium: Preservation Hall Jazz Band concert sweet though sparse of audience

Once upon a time in New Orleans the stuffy, tiny venue called Preservation Hall was an insider's stop on a nighttime tour of the French Quarter. You waited in line on the sidewalk. The flashy people promenaded right on by.

Inside the hall, there was more privation (no alcohol) and the musicians looked like octogenarians. They played a bizarre, historic music in a primitive room: wooden benches, no A/C. It was an intense experience, as in I Survived learning about jazz in Preservation Hall.

In the Shreveport Municipal Auditorium this weekend, however, we met the new century purveyors of the roots of jazz. They were supple performers and capable, we realized, of playing any kind of music. Led by droll trumpet player John Brunious, the group conjured both Mississippi mud and Trout Amandine.

The Preservation Hall players are the cream of the Big Easy insiders: drummer Joseph Lastie comes from a family known for musicianship over several generations. Trombone player Lucien Barbarin counts 2 of his forebears as players with Louis Armstrong.

Those who enjoyed the concert and want a deeper appreciation for that band and the Crescent City might seek out the book Up from the Roots of Jazz: New Orleans Music since WWII. It is a classic history book by Jason Berry, Jonathan Foose and Tad Jones. There you will follow the intertwining lines of R n B, the Mardi Gras Indian tribes and modern as well as traditional jazz.

The Municipal Auditorium was a lovely venue for the Basin Street fellows. The video projection screens were an excellent addition to the show.

The audience was relatively small. Traditional jazz, we realized, remains an art music. And maybe Shreveport just isn't really a jazz lovin' town.


Anonymous said...

I can remember the first time I saw Preservation Hall. I was about six or so (this was a very long time ago) and my father took me there on a family weekend trip to NOLA.

One of the great things about that experience in NOLA is that the place itself literally hasn't changed, unless you count the masonry braces.

The last time I went was the summer before The Storm, and the line was egregiously long, so I just stood outside one of the windows on the street.

NOLA evokes many things and stimulates all the senses. But if someone asks, what does NOLA sound like, I'd have to tell them about the second show on a Saturday nite in June at Preservation Hall.

trudeau11 said...

What a lyrical post, anon. Hope you'll grace us again with your articulate observations.

One more point I wanted to address in the review: playing music can be a lifetime sport. The Pres Hall players are growing old gracefully and they looked great as they performed.