Preservation Hall Jazz Band Returns, Revitalized by a Trip to Cuba and Some New Points of Reference

The beloved icons of New Orleans play a deeply American music

July 15, 2019

Folsom, CA — They have held the torch of New Orleans music aloft for over 50 years, playing music that is nothing less than a vibrant living history. Whether tapping into New Orleans' Afro-Cuban roots on their last recording, or providing a "joyous, wide-ranging account…crammed with fascinating facts and toe-tickling tunes" ( New York Times) in the award winning award-winning documentary "A Tuba to Cuba," Traditional jazz - a deeply American music - is deepened further in their capable hands. The Harris Center is proud to welcome them back to Folsom.

Coming to the Harris Center for two performances, Preservation Hall Jazz Band performs on Monday, August 5 and Tuesday, August 6 at 7:30 pm. Tickets are $28-$48; Premium $52. Children and Students with ID $14-$21. Tickets are available online at www.harriscenter.net or from the Harris Center Ticket Office at 916-608-6888 from 12 noon to 6 pm, Monday through Saturday, and two hours before show time. Parking is included in the price of the ticket. The Harris Center is located on the west side of Folsom Lake College campus in Folsom, CA, facing East Bidwell Street.

New Orleans has been the point at where sounds and cultures from around the world converge, mingle, and resurface, transformed by the Crescent City's inimitable spirit and joie de vivre.

Nowadays, the classic PHJB sound has been invigorated by a number of fresh influences, not least among them the band's 2015 life-changing trip to Cuba. A visit to the island, so integral to the evolution of jazz and New Orleans culture in general, had long been in the works when President Obama's diplomatic opening suddenly allowed for a more extensive journey than had originally seemed possible.

"When the restrictions were lifted," says bandleader/composer/bassist Ben Jaffe, "It was no longer just about going down there and playing a concert. We were able to explore a bit more, which profoundly impacted the band not just musically but personally. In Cuba, all of a sudden we were face to face with our musical counterparts. There's been a connection between Cuba and New Orleans since day one - we're family. A gigantic light bulb went off and we realized that New Orleans music is not just a thing by itself; it's part of something much bigger. It was almost like having a religious epiphany."

The band's evolution doesn't stop in Havana. Preservation Hall Jazz Band is redefining what New Orleans music means by tapping into a sonic continuum that stretches back to the city's Afro-Cuban roots, through its common ancestry with the Afrobeat of Fela Kuti and the Fire Music of John Coltrane, and forward to cutting-edge artists with whom the PHJB have shared festival stages from Coachella to Newport, including legends like Stevie Wonder and the Grateful Dead, as well as modern giants like My Morning Jacket, Arcade Fire and the Black Keys.

The Preservation Hall Jazz Band derives its name from Preservation Hall, the venerable music venue located in the heart of New Orleans' French Quarter, founded in 1961 by Allan and Sandra Jaffe. The band has traveled worldwide spreading their mission to nurture and perpetuate the art form of New Orleans Jazz; amusic embodies a joyful, timeless spirit. Under the auspices of current director, Ben Jaffe, the son of founders Allan and Sandra, Preservation Hall continues with a deep reverence and consciousness of its greatest attributes in the modern day as a venue, band, and record label.

The building that houses Preservation Hall has housed many businesses over the years including a tavern during the war of 1812, a photo studio and an art gallery. It was during the years of the art gallery that then owner, Larry Borenstein, began holding informal jam sessions for his close friends. Out of these sessions grew the concept of Preservation Hall. The intimate venue, whose weathered exterior has been untouched over its history, is a living embodiment of its original vision. To this day, Preservation Hall has no drinks, air conditioning, or other typical accoutrements strictly welcoming people of all ages interested in having one of the last pure music experiences left on the earth.

The PHJB began touring in 1963 and for many years there were several bands successfully touring under the name Preservation Hall. Many of the band's charter members performed with the pioneers who invented jazz in the early twentieth century including Buddy Bolden, Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong, and Bunk Johnson. Band leaders over the band's history include the brothers Willie and Percy Humphrey, husband and wife Billie and De De Pierce, famed pianist Sweet Emma Barrett, and in the modern day Wendell and John Brunious. These founding artists and dozens of others passed on the lessons of their music to a younger generation who now follow in their footsteps like the current lineup.

Preservation Hall Jazz Band:

  • BEN JAFFE - Bass (upright), Tuba, Percussion
  • CHARLIE GABRIEL - Saxophone (tenor), Clarinet
  • CLINT MAEDGEN - Saxophone (tenor), Percussion
  • RONELL JOHNSON - Trombone
  • WALTER HARRIS - Drums, Percussion
  • KYLE ROUSSEL - Piano, Wurlitzer, Organ
  • BRANDEN LEWIS - Trumpet

Next month at the Harris Center

Grammy-winner Boz Scaggs ("It's Over," "Lido Shuffle" and "Lowdown") has sold out his August 15 engagement. Well known to North American jazz audiences - he's toured America with the Afro-Cuban All Stars and was lead pianist and musical director of ¡Cubanismo! - Nachito Herrera performs solo on August 16. Backed by Merle Haggard's band, The Strangers, Kris Kristofferson has reportedly rediscovered his stride and returns for an encore engagement August 21; tickets are almost gone. The tribute One Night of Queen by Gary Mullen & The Works on August 22 is sold out. Keyboard Conversations With Jeffrey Siegel returns for his ninth season at the Harris Center with Mozart and Haydn - Humor and Heartache on August 24. Presented in conjunction with Danny Zelisko Presents, ex-Moody Blues front man Justin Hayward ("Tuesday Afternoon," "Nights in White Satin") brings his acoustic trio to Folsom August 27.

This Year Marks Nine Seasons of Great Shows. Up Close. In Folsom!

The Harris Center for the Arts at Folsom Lake College brings the community together to share in cultural experiences, presenting the work of artists from throughout the region and around the world. Built and operated by the Los Rios Community College District, the $50 million, state-of-the-art regional performing arts center boasts three intimate venues with outstanding acoustics, an art gallery, a recording studio, elegant teaching spaces, plenty of safe parking and all the other amenities of a world-class performing arts venue. Each year the Center hosts over 400 events attracting 150,000 annually.

Event Summary


  • Monday, August 5 and Tuesday, August 6 at 7:30 pm
  • Harris Center for the Arts at Folsom Lake College
    10 College Parkway, Folsom, CA 95630
  • $28–$48; Premium $52. Children and Students with ID $14-$21.
  • Ticket Office 916-608-6888
  • Mon - Sat 12 PM - 6 PM and 2 hours before show times
  • www.HarrisCenter.net

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