Preservation Hall Jazz Band marks 50 years at fest

Associated Press Modified: May 6, 2012 at 8:00 pm •  Published: May 6, 2012
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NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The Preservation Hall Jazz Band on Sunday marked its 50th anniversary with a jam session at New Orleans' Jazz Fest featuring a number of old friends.

On Sunday, the band closed the festival's Gentilly Stage with friends including Allen Toussaint, Trombone Shorty, the Rebirth Brass Band and Jazz Fest founder George Wein.

In a rare performance, the 86-year-old Wein introduced the band then played piano on their opening number — "Basin Street Blues." He got a rousing ovation after the song ended and he left the stage.

All of the performers then joined the band on stage for the finale.

The French Quarter-based music venue was founded in 1961 to protect and honor New Orleans jazz.

The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, on its closing weekend, marked the anniversary by showcasing the world-renowned band in concert twice.

Hall director Ben Jaffe, the son of founders Allan and Sandra Jaffe, said his parents' goal was to make sure New Orleans' unique musical traditions would be kept alive.

"Fifty years later, we're not too much different," Jaffe said. "The faces may be a bit different, but the experience is not tremendously different."

"It's important that the Preservation Hall people keep playing," added Wein, who also founded the Newport Jazz Festival in Rhode Island. "Times have changed, but the spirit and feel remain the same."

The Preservation Hall Jazz Band's members include 79-year-old clarinetist Charlie Gabriel, a fourth-generation musician; trombonist Frank Desmond, also 79; pianist Rickie Monie, 60; drummer Joseph Lastie Jr., 53; saxophonist Clint Maedgen, 42, on tuba; Jaffe, 41; and trumpeter Mark Braud, 38.