We recently caught up with Ben Jaffe, creative director of the world-renowned Preservation Hall Jazz Band from New Orleans. We were curious to learn the secret to the band’s longevity after over 50 years on stage. Ben assured us that this is only the beginning.
Q. Over 50 years as a band is amazing. What’s been the secret for its longevity?
A. New Orleans and the music and spirit and soul of preservation hall and the musicians who perform here are timeless…
Q. How did you become involved?
A. My parents became involved in 1961…. I’ve always hung around the Hall. I grew up around the corner. I took over the bass chair in 1993 when James Provost retired and I’ve been involved ever since.
Q. What inspires you about the old jazz standards?
A. There’s a reason certain songs stick. I don’t know what the reason is, but certain songs take on special meaning. In New Orleans, some of our repertoire dates back over a hundred years. There’s a level of comfort knowing we’re carrying forward compositions that have remained an important part of our city. Music in New Orleans serves a social function. We play music at funerals for distinguished members of our community out of respect and honor.
Q. How does the band develop new material?
A. There’s no one way we write music. Sometimes somebody has a melodic idea or rhythmic pattern and we build around it. Sometimes we’re inspired by an experience, a moment, a memory, a smell….. You never know where or when inspiration will hit.
Q. So what’s ahead for the band’s next 50 years?
A. I’d like to see the Hall continue in perpetuity. It’s become an institution and deserves to be around for generations to come.
Q. Tell us a little bit about what our audience can expect at River Run on March 15?
A. Great music and good times!!!!