Picks and Pans Review: New Orleans, Vol. Ii
Preservation Hall Jazz Band
With every song, New Orleans-style jazz gives you at no extra cost a pep talk, a consoling pat on the back and a glimpse of Utopia. The pep talk comes from the prevalence of bright, marchlike tempos, the pat on the back from the blues that are deep in the music's heritage. What's Utopian is the collective improvisation—several brass and woodwind voices declaiming at once around the shared value of a chord. It's one of the great musical realizations of one-for-all-and-all-for-one, and when the Preservation Hall Jazz Band's musicians pour it on together in, say, the last chorus of Down on the Farm, their ecstasy reaches religious heights. This isn't the slick tourist Dixieland of current Bourbon Street. Rather it's something cozier, funnier, scruffier. Five of the band's seven members are over 70, and they give the ensemble, in cuts like Shake It and Break It and The Bucket's Got a Hole in It, the lovable feel of old worn slippers. Particularly endearing are gruff vocals by Percy Humphrey, James "Sing" Miller and Marvin Kimball, Allan Jaffe's oom-paahing tuba, and Kimball's banjo, crisp and crackling as bacon on a griddle.
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