Residents of Stillwater can get a taste of the sound of New Orleans on Jan. 30 when The Preservation Hall Jazz Band performs at the McKnight Center for the Performing Arts.
The band’s goal is to maintain the deep tradition and history of New Orleans through its music. The Preservation Hall Jazz Band have shared stages with the likes of Stevie Wonder and the Grateful Dead. The PHJB once performed at Coachella.
Most of the members of The PHJB are related to the original members, but the ones that are not have the same goal as all the other musicians.
Ben Jaffe is the creative director for the band. Jaffe said the band plays in order to create music people connect to.
“When we play music, the barometer for us as a band is whether the locals are reacting,” Jaffe said. “In New Orleans, we play music for dances and parades, funerals and churches. It’s important to us to make music people connect to, that people dance to, that people really feel, emotionally and physically. That’s the tradition we grew up with, that’s what we know.”
The PHJB will be performing its album “So It Is” during the concert. According to the band’s website the album “marches that tradition forward once again.” The album was released in 2017 and continues to define New Orleans tradition to this day.
The group released a film called “A Tuba to Cuba” in 2019 to trace the sounds that gave birth to jazz. The film followed the band as it visited the island learning about the life of jazz. On one of the stops in the film the band visited a 70-year-old jazz club. During the visit Jaffe saw a picture on the wall of the Olympia Brass Band, a New Orleans band from the 1960s to the 1980s. Pictured in the band was lead saxophonist Harold Dejan, Ben Jaffe’s grandfather.
Jaffe’s family owns the Preservation Hall today and have since near the beginning. His parents, Alan and Sandra Jaffe, discovered the hall in 1960 during their honeymoon and began to run it after the creator Larry Borenstein passed away. Ben Jaffe now has been running the Preservation Hall since his dad passed away in 1987.
The band has played in many different venues and continues to grow. The band has travelled to Japan.
The purpose of the band is to continue to expand the reach of the sound of New Orleans and jazz. The concert at the McKnight Center will give college students the chance to learn a little bit of history and tradition of a historic part of America.
Tickets are available at the McKnight Center website, calling (405) 744-9999, or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.