Hot on the heels of its 50th anniversary, the New Orleans Preservation Hall Jazz Band recently released That’s It; now they’re hitting the road with a string of dates that includes the San Jose Summer Fest. Here, tuba player and band director Ben Jaffe explains how the old timers keep it fresh without going overboard.
“Trying to recreate something from 100 years ago is a recipe for ending up in a museum, hanging on a wall and gathering dust. Being the blood inheritors of the New Orleans music tradition, we have a responsibility to contribute to it. It has to invigorate people when they listen to it.
“But we’re not really doing anything that different. It’s not like Stravinsky playing ‘Rite of Spring’ in Paris: People aren’t showing up at our shows with tomatoes. I’m sure there are going to be some who don’t understand what we’re doing, but there were a lot of people who didn’t understand what Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong or King Oliver were doing.”