JWR Articles: Live Event - Preservation Hall Jazz Band (Featured performers: Benjamin Jaffe, Ralph Johnson, Joseph Lastie, Rickie Monie, Frank Demond, John Brunious, Don Vappie) - February 5, 2004
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Preservation Hall Jazz Band

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It doesn't get much better than this

It’s all too rare that any musical performance maintains pace, intensity and passion right from the first note to the coda’s echo and that any slight blemishes merely confirm the human element. Those lucky enough to have filled the Annenberg Theater were transported to N’Orleans by the amazing skills and artistry of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band in two heady sets; most of the songs taken from their most recent CD.

Curly headed Benjamin Jaffe, the youngest and second-generation member, kept the charts moving forward and excelled in the slap, push background. Clarinetist Ralph Johnson soared and faded at will, darting through and around the solo lines with aplomb and deference to the composers.

On the skins, Joseph Lastie Jr. beat up a storm that brought to mind an evening years ago when Al Hirt’s band deserted their drummer on stage for an extended solo that had the crowd entranced. Lastie should be placed in the same predicament—everyone would benefit. The theatre’s Steinway safely hidden off stage, Rickie Monie drew pearls and cascading accompaniments from his sturdy upright, overflowing with zest and panache.

The bright red socks sported by trombonist Frank Demond were as colourful as his contributions—musical or asides. From “Basin Street Blues” to “Mamma Don’t Allow It,” John Brunious on trumpet and vocals is clearly the musical leader of this intrepid band—nothing like experience!

Which leaves Don Vappie, whose banjo strums, riffs and quotes (I caught Deliverance, were the Beverley Hillbillies buried in the ensembles?) added the all-too-rare timbre (many similar groups use guitar), which authenticates the sound of the world’s happiest music.

The audience clapped, hooted and danced at will—adding to the atmosphere rather than chasing the artists away (cross-reference below).

Happy days! See you in New Orleans: doo-waw, doo-waw; dubbity, duppity, dup. JWR

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