Founded in 1961, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band had a very distinct and important mission – to promote traditional New Orleans Jazz with total authenticity. Their legendary first lineup has been long gone but the Preservation Hall Jazz Band has gamely continued on with different lineups over the years, and they’ve toured around the world promoting some of the world’s greatest music.
As the institution celebrated it’s 50th anniversary, Creative Director Ben Jaffe (son of the first Creative Director Alan Jaffe) and others started to ask a rather important, soul-searching question: how does an institution based on an early 20th century musical culture, formed in the mid 20th century prosper and stay relevant in the 21st century? As Ben Jaffe has publicly stated by boldly looking forward towards the next 50 years. And in the spirt of looking forward, Pres Hall will be releasing their first album of original music – ever.
That’s It! which Legacy Recordings will be releasing on July 9th, also marks another important occasion – Jim James of My Morning Jacket takes the helm at production, along with Ben Jaffe. The compositions were written by Ben Jaffe, Charlie Gabriel, Rickie Monie, Clint Maedgen, Paul Williams, Dan Wilson and Chris Stapleton.
Starting off with a rollicking, swinging piano chords and horn lines and opening lyrics “I’ve been weak/I’ve been strong/I’ve done good/But sometimes i’ve done wrong” and it’s overall theme of redemption and love are done in such a sincere, joyful manner that you can’t help but get swept up by it. Somehow, you’ll just feel happy deep down in your soul.
If this track is indicative of the rest of the material on the album, it manages to pay homage to the past and it’s traditions, in a way that’s loving and warm but with the recognition that jazz is never a static or cold genre. As much as it’s artists paid proper tribute to the past, they’ve managed to look forward, offering new interpretations of beloved material for modern audiences to grasp. Pres Hall manages to do that with some down home Southern charm.