Preservation Hall Jazz Band
At the Lobero Theatre, Thursday, July 6.
Reviewed by Stanley Naftaly
The deepest roots of all jazz, from the most accessible to the most extreme, were onstage at the Lobero Theatre last Thursday evening in the person of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. From the first bar of “Bourbon Street Parade” to the last poignant strains of “Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?” more than two hours later, it was a rollicking evening of expertly played and deeply felt New Orleans jazz.
In the late 1700s, New Orleans slaves were allowed to gather in a park called Congo Square on Sundays to play their native instruments and dance. Because the city also had a large population of European immigrants, many of whom were classically trained musicians, it was there and then that African rhythms and European melodies and harmonies first met. The rest is jazz, blues, and history.
The octet — trumpet, clarinet, alto sax, trombone, banjo, piano, bass, and drums — took less than one song to completely charm the eager audience. From then on, it was a joint venture. The musicians are, to the audience, fine players. Pianist Ricky Monie infused his work with hints of more modern jazz, sometimes bringing Errol Garner to mind; and saxophonist Darryl Adams, perhaps in deference to Sidney Bechet, often played his alto as if it were a soprano. Among the great traditional jazz tunes on the program were W.C. Handy’s 1914 composition, “Saint Louis Blues,” “Basin Street Blues,” “(You Can) Depend on Me,” “I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate,” “I’m Alone Because I Love You,” and “Just A Closer Walk With Thee.”
As easy to understand and enjoy as this music is, it’s quite complex in its way. Each of the melody instruments plays a different and sometimes contrapuntal part, weaving in and out of the basic rhythmic structure. The result is intertwined layers, all exposed, rhythmically fused and a gas to listen to.
At the end of the show, the band called for a New Orleans Second Line Parade, which resulted in more than 100 audience members cavorting on the stage after line-dancing through the hall. That tells you everything about the spirit of this concert.