Preservation Hall Jazz Band ‘St. Peter and 57th Street’ (Rounder) 4/5

Anyone who witnessed this band’s tour of the UK a few years ago cannot fail to have been impressed by the music of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band which is steeped in the history of New Orleans, a pivotal city in the development of jazz music. This CD captures them live in performance in January 2012 at the legendary Carnegie Hall and is an absolute treat from start to finish. The band’s creative director and tuba player, Ben Jaffe, literally grew up with the formation since his parents were instrumental in creating it in the first instance. With a guest list that is as good as it gets, the old favourite songs and tunes are on offer here. For a slice of authentic American roots where jazz and bluegrass meet head on, the Del McCroury Band come on board and offer a delicious ‘One more ‘fore I die’. A key figure in the evolution of New Orleans music in the last fifty years has been pianist, composer and singer Allen Toussaint so it is only fitting that he should be present in his various capacities and he teams up with young turc trombonist Trombone Shorty on a Toussaint original, aptly titled ‘Preservation Hall Jazz Band’. Toussaint in fact performs alongside clarinetist Tom Sancton on a gentle, swaying ‘Burgundy St. Blues’. There is even a hint of the Spanish tinger that has been so influential in shaping the music of New Olreans on an outstanding rendition of the Cuban evergreen ‘El manicero’ (‘The peanut vendor’) which is tuba-led with the famous riff played out on assorted brass to wonderful effect and vocals by Tap Seeger while the audience actively participate with handclaps. The Presevation Hall Jazz band are truly an ensemble that needs to be viewed live to be fully appreciated, but this perfomance, with excellent sound quality, is the next best thing and will bring countless hours of sheer enjoyment. Tim Stenhouse

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