Tag: Preservation Hall Jazz Band

New Video: Preservation Hall Jazz Band’s Charlie Gabriel to Release Debut Album As Bandleader, Shares Intimate, Behind-The-Scenes Visual for “I’m Confessin'”

88 year-old Charlie Gabriel is a New Orleans-born and-based saxophonist, clarinetist and vocalist, who has had an incredibly lengthy music career: Gabriel’s first professional gig was back in 1943, sitting in for his father in New Orleans’ Eureka Brass Band. As a teenager, he relocated to Detroit, where he played with Lionel Hampton, whose band at the time included a young Charles Mingus. Gabriel then spent nine years with a group led by Cab Calloway drummer J.C. Heard.

For a period of time, Gabriel fronted a bebop group. He has also played with or toured with Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Bennett, Aretha Franklin and a lengthy list of others before joining the legendary New Orleans jazz ensemble Preservation Hall Jazz Band in 2006. Since then, Gabriel, the most senior member of the group has developed a tight musical relationship with creative director, bassist and tuba player, Ben Jaffe, the son of the group’s co-founders Allan and Sandra Jaffe.

Gabriel signed to Sub Pop Records, who will be releasing the jazz legend’s full-length debut as a bandleader 89, which is slated for digital release on February 25, 2022 and a July 1, 2022 physical copy — CD/LP, etc. — release, a few days before his 89th birthday.

Although he’s faced plenty of challenges over the course of his almost eight decade music career, none likely rank with the death of his brother and last living sibling Leonard to COVID-19. For the first time ever, Gabriel put down his horn, filling his days and weeks instead with dark reflection, a stubborn yet understandable despondency broken now and then by regular chess matches in the studio kitchen of Pres Hall leader Ben Jaffe, who was working overtime to bring his friend and bandmate some light.

One of those afternoons also included guitarist Joshua Starkman, who was sitting off in a corner playing his guitar and half-watching Jaffe and Gabriel play chess from a distance. When Charlie returned the next day, he brought his saxophone. “I was just inspired to try it, to play again. It had been a long time, and a guitar makes me feel free. I do love the sound of a piano, but it takes up a lot of a space, keeps me kind of boxed in.”

“We had no particular plan, or any particular insight on what we were gonna do. But we were enjoying what we were doing, jamming, having a musical conversation,” Gabriel adds, further musing, “Musical conversations cancel out complications.”

Interestingly, that day wound up being the first session for 89, almost entirely the work of Gabriel, Jaffe and Starkman, recorded mostly in the kitchen by Matt Aguiluz. Charlie Gabriel plays tenor sax and clarinet on the album, Starkman plays guitar and Jaffe plays bass, drums and keys throughout the album.

The album’s material includes six standards, including “Stardust,” “I’m Confessin'” and “Three Little Words,” which the New Orleans legend describes as “standard material that every musician, if they’re an older musician like myself, will have played throughout their career. Every time I play one of these tunes the interpretation is a little bit different.” The album also includes two originals written by Gabriel, “Yellow Moon” and “The Darker It Gets” — and while being Gabriel’s debut, it also marks a return to his first instrument, clarinet on many of the album’s tracks. “The clarinet is the mother of the saxophone,” he says. “I started playing clarinet early in life, and this [taught me] the saxophone.” 

89‘s first single sees Gabriel and his bandmates play a gorgeous and utterly charming rendition of the old standard “I’m Confessin.'” Centered around a subtle re-arrangement for jazz guitar, clarinet, saxophone and bass, Gabriel’s version to my ears manages to meet Peggy Lee and Louis Armstrong somewhere in the middle, while being roomy enough for Gabriel’s vocals, which balance a wizened raspiness with an sweet tenderness. Simply put, it’s the sort of vulnerable and endearingly honest love song that we just don’t get anymore — and that’s just one why I love it so much.

Directed by Alex Hennen Payne, the recently released video for “I’m Confessin'” is shot in a gorgeous and cinematic black and white and captures the 89 sessions with a warm and loving intimacy.

Live Footage: Preservation Hall Performs “Santiago” with Dave Grohl and the Late Show with Stephen Colbert Band with Jon Baptiste

Allan Jaffe founded Preservation Hall and Preservation Hall Jazz Band in the early 190s with two vital and critical missions: promoting and preservation New Orleans’ traditional jazz sound and culture with the authenticity and devotion it deserved and to ensure that some of New Orleans’ best musicians kept working at a time that jazz had steadily lost popularity. And although the band has gone through several lineup changes throughout its history, the act has proudly continued those missions, recording over 30 critically acclaimed albums, a live album and with a touring scheduling that has had the band collaborating with an incredibly diverse number of renowned and contemporary acts at concerts and festivals across the globe, helping to introduce and re-popularize the New Orleans jazz sound to concertgoers and music fans everywhere.

In the years after Hurricane Katrina devastated one of the world’s great musical cities, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, now lead by Allan Jaffe’s son Ben have continued their mission of promoting and preserving New Orleans’ jazz sound and culture — but with a decidedly modern take. Now, as you may know, Preservation Hall Jazz Band was recently in town to support the release of their second full-length album of original material So It Is with a packed house at Highline Ballroom and an appearance on Late Show with Stephen Colbert where they played the album’s fiery lead single “Santiago” with Jon Baptiste and his Late Show Band — and special guest, Dave Grohl, who was on the show to promote his new book with his mom, From Cradle to Stage.

New Video: Live Footage of Preservation Hall Jazz Captures the Explosive and Ebullient Energy of Their Latest Single “Santiago”

Allan Jaffe founded Preservation Hall Jazz Band in 1961 with a vital and critical mission: promoting and preserving New Orleans‘ jazz and its jazz culture with the authenticity that it deserved. And although most of the act’s first lineup is no longer with us, the act has continued on its mission with a variety of different lineups, recording over 30 studio albums, a live album, and a touring schedule that has included collaborating with a number of renowned popular acts at festivals and concerts, helping to introduce and re-popularize the New Orleans jazz sound to concertgoers and music fans across the world.

With the act celebrating its 50th anniversary earlier this decade, the milestone left its current creative director Ben Jaffe, the son of the act’s legendary and beloved founder, and its current members with a couple of deeply existential and important questions: First, how does an institution based on early 20th century musical culture survive and prosper in the early 21st century? And second, how do they do that while continuing to preserve and honor New Orleans’ musical culture and sound? Interestingly, the answer Jaffe and company came up with was that they needed to reinvent themselves and their sound by looking at the future, but with a loving and kind gaze at what inspired and influenced them, and at their previous history. Or in other words, with the band’s first 50 years being focused on the sounds and styles of the past, Jaffe and company felt it was necessary to make the institution’s next 50 years about how they can modernize without forgetting or losing the vital connection to the past.

Jaffe and the members of the band decided that the best way to look towards the future would be to write and record new, original material — including the band’s first album of originals, the boisterous and joyous That’s It!, which included album title track “That’s It,” “Dear Lord (Give Me The Strength)” and “Rattling Bones” among others. April 21, 2017 will mark the release of the Dave Sitek-produced So It Is, the septet’s second album of original material — and the album’s material finds the band mining fresh influences, including their 2015 life-changing trip to Cuba. As the band’s leader, arranger, composer and multi-instrumentalist Ben Jaffe explains in press notes, “In Cuba, all of a sudden we were face-to-face with our musical counterparts. There’s been a connection between Cuba and New Orleans since day one — we’re family. A gigantic light bulb went off and we realized that New Orleans music is not just a thing by itself; it’s part of something much bigger. It was almost like having a religious epiphany.”

Featuring compositions and songs largely penned by Jaffe and 84 year-old saxophonist and clarinetist Charlie Gabriel in collaboration with the members of the band, the material ties the New Orleans jazz sound to the larger African Diaspora, in particular with the Afro-Caribbean and Afro-Cuban sound through the common sonic and aesthetic linkages — in particular Fela Kuti, Pharaoh Sanders and John Coltrane. Of course, the material also draws from the continuing post-Katrina rebuilding of New Orleans that has forced all locally-based artists to consider what the city’s sound and culture means and should be in 2017 and onwards. And lastly, the material draws from their collaborations with the likes of Stevie Wonder, Elvis Costello, The Grateful Dead, My Morning Jacket, Arcade Fire and The Black Keys.

As I mentioned earlier, Dave Sitek was enlisted to produce So It is. Sitek, best known as a founding member of TV on the Radio and a go-to producer, who has worked with Kelis, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Santigold and others, also offered a modern perspective and a profound respect for the band’s history. In fact, as Sitek recalls upon his arrival in New Orleans to meet Jaffe and the members of the septet, he and Jaffe had randomly stumbled into one of the second-line parades, which New Orleans has long been known for. “I was struck by the visceral energy of the live music all around, this spontaneous joy, everything so immediately,” Sitek said in press notes. “I knew I had to make sure that feeling came out of the studio. It needed to be alive. It needed to sound dangerous.”

“Santiago,” So It Is’ first single bares a clear resemblance to the material on its predecessor as it possesses a boisterous, riotous joy; but unlike any of their previously released material, the composition is a difficult to pigeonhole melange of influences and sounds that features a propulsive rhythm section that seemingly draws from Cuban son, meringue and salsa, Afrobeat, and big band jazz paired with a bold, bright, swaggering horn lines familiar to New Orleans brass band and jazz. Interestingly, the composition possesses a loose and completely improvisational feel, as the musicians in the band catch a groove and ride it; but there’s also enough room for the members of the band to play strutting and swaggering solos. Simply put the band and this particular composition radiate an indefatigable joy — and if you don’t immediately start to dance as soon as you hear it, there’s something deeply wrong with you.

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site for a while. you’d know that I have a profound love of the New Orleans sound, have written about the legendary Preservation Jazz Hall Band and have even caught them live a couple of years back, when they stopped at Brooklyn Bowl for an incredibly fun Christmastime show. The recently released video for “Santiago” captures the band at their best — live. And it shouldn’t be surprising that the video captures the song’s explosive and swaggering energy; but it should remind you that jazz while jazz over the past 50 or 60 years has been reduced to “classy” establishments, jazz has long been the sound of rebellion, of ebullient and frenetic joy, of passionate, seductive danger.

New Audio: Preservation Hall Jazz Band Return with a Globe-Spanning Take on Their Renowned Sound

Allan Jaffe founded Preservation Hall Jazz Band in 1961 with a vital and critical mission: promoting and preserving New Orleans’ jazz and its jazz culture with the authenticity that it deserved. And although most of the act’s first lineup is no longer with us, the act has continued on its mission with a variety of different lineups, recording over 30 studio albums, a live album, and a touring schedule that has included collaborating with a number of renowned popular acts at festivals and concerts, helping to introduce and re-popularize the New Orleans jazz sound to concertgoers and music fans across the world.

With the act celebrating its 50th anniversary earlier this decade, the milestone left its current creative director Ben Jaffe, the son of the act’s legendary and beloved founder, and its current members with a couple of deeply existential and important questions: First, how does an institution based on early 20th century musical culture survive and prosper in the early 21st century? And second, how do they do that while continuing to preserve and honor New Orleans’ musical culture and sound? Interestingly, the answer Jaffe and company came up with was that they needed to reinvent themselves and their sound by looking at the future, but with a loving and kind gaze at what inspired and influenced them, and at their previous history. Or in other words, with the band’s first 50 years being focused on the sounds and styles of the past, Jaffe and company felt it was necessary to make the institution’s next 50 years about how they can modernize without forgetting or losing the vital connection to the past.

Jaffe and the members of the band decided that the best way to look towards the future would be to write and record new, original material — including the band’s first album of originals, the boisterous and joyous That’s It!, which included album title track “That’s It,” “Dear Lord (Give Me The Strength)” and “Rattling Bones” among others. April 21, 2017 will mark the release of the Dave Sitek-produced So It Is, the septet’s second album of original material — and the album’s material finds the band mining fresh influences, including their 2015 life-changing trip to Cuba. As the band’s leader, arranger, composer and multi-instrumentalist Ben Jaffe explains in press notes, “In Cuba, all of a sudden we were face-to-face with our musical counterparts. There’s been a connection between Cuba and New Orleans since day one — we’re family. A gigantic light bulb went off and we realized that New Orleans music is not just a thing by itself; it’s part of something much bigger. It was almost like having a religious epiphany.”

Featuring compositions and songs largely penned by Jaffe and 84 year-old saxophonist and clarinetist Charlie Gabriel in collaboration with the members of the band, the material ties the New Orleans jazz sound to the larger African Diaspora, in particular with the Afro-Caribbean and Afro-Cuban sound through the common sonic and aesthetic linkages — in particular Fela Kuti, Pharaoh Sanders and John Coltrane. Of course, the material also draws from the continuing post-Katrina rebuilding of New Orleans that has forced all locally-based artists to consider what the city’s sound and culture means and should be in 2017 and onwards. And lastly, the material draws from their collaborations with the likes of Stevie Wonder, Elvis Costello, The Grateful Dead, My Morning Jacket, Arcade Fire and The Black Keys.

As I mentioned earlier, Dave Sitek was enlisted to produce So It is. Sitek, best known as a founding member of TV on the Radio and a go-to producer, who has worked with Kelis, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Santigold and others, also offered a modern perspective and a profound respect for the band’s history. In fact, as Sitek recalls upon his arrival in New Orleans to meet Jaffe and the members of the septet, he and Jaffe had randomly stumbled into one of the second-line parades, which New Orleans has long been known for. “I was struck by the visceral energy of the live music all around, this spontaneous joy, everything so immediately,” Sitek said in press notes. “I knew I had to make sure that feeling came out of the studio. It needed to be alive. It needed to sound dangerous.”

“Santiago,” So It Is’ first single bares a clear resemblance to the material on its predecessor as it possesses a boisterous, riotous joy; but unlike any of their previously released material, the composition is a difficult to pigeonhole melange of influences and sounds that features a propulsive rhythm section that seemingly draws from Cuban son, meringue and salsa, Afrobeat, and big band jazz paired with a bold, bright, swaggering horn lines familiar to New Orleans brass band and jazz. Interestingly, the composition possesses a loose and completely improvisational feel, as the musicians in the band catch a groove and ride it; but there’s also enough room for the members of the band to play strutting and swaggering solos. Simply put the band and this particular composition radiate an indefatigable joy — and if you don’t immediately start to dance as soon as you hear it, there’s something deeply wrong with you.