Preservation Hall is a Jazz Band, concert venue, and all-around institution in New Orleans. In the late hours following the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival (another Big Easy institution), other bands have been coming by the legendary concert hall for a series of intimate collaborations staged as the Midnight Preserves concert series. On May 1, the Alabama Shakes performed with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and Spin sat down with that group’s creative director and tuba player, Ben Jaffe, to talk about the venue’s storied history and capture a thrilling live take of “Rise to the Sun.”
“Preservation Hall was established to present New Orleans jazz in a very new way,” Jaffe says of the venue’s origins in 1961. The goal of the Midnight Preserves concert series is in some ways similar, with the longtime jazz greats jamming with younger artists outside the realm of traditional jazz. Electronic artist Pretty Lights recently played a show alongside the group, some of whom worked on his most recent album A Color Map of the Sun.
“Our audience today is a very young generation of music fans,” Joffe says, “who are discovering jazz and New Orleans through Preservation Hall.”
Those in attendance at the Alabama Shakes show -- including Jazz Fest performers Solange and Jimmy Buffett -- were treated to what the Times-Picayune called “one of the best” shows yet in the Midnight Preserves series. Shakes frontwoman Brittney Howard has one of the most powerful voices in all of music, and her throaty intensity is well suited to the material that bridges the gap between their two sounds.
The Spin video, embedded above, also includes footage from their performance of Boys and Girls standout “Rise to the Sun,” which takes on a bluesier dimension with the addition of honky-tonk pianos and horns. It’s a fantastic rendition and a tantalizing sample the group’s full performance.
Unfortunately for those of us who weren’t there, the Alabama Shakes just wrapped up their string of dates in April and May, and is taking what sounds like a much-needed break from the road. As for the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, well, you know where to find them.
“As long as New Orleans is here,” Jaffe says, “we’ll be here.”