Album Reviews

Music You Don't Know You Like Yet

PRESERVATION HALL JAZZ BAND

PRESERVATION

2010-03-03

Since 1961, Preservation Hall in New Orleans has showcased traditional jazz to the delight of fans from around the world. While part of its charm has always been its stark, decrepit warehouse feel (six benches, no running water, no A/C), the post Katrina era found the venerable hall falling into further disrepair and out of the limelight as a “must see” stop in New Orleans. Worse yet, the musical tradition represented by the Hall faced extinction as displaced musicians followed the receding flood waters to other locations. This benefit disc is intended to reverse both trends by pairing the well oiled blend of upbeat, toe-tapping roots jazz featured night after night at Preservation Hall with vocals from a wide cast of characters from the pop, country, folk, rock, gospel and blues worlds. With a generous 19 tracks, featuring everyone from My Morning Jacket’s Jim James (appearing as his alter ego Yim Yames) to Louis Armstrong and Angelique Kidjo, the disc is not only a pleasurable listen but at times a revelation. Who knew that Ani DiFranco had the playful side evidenced on "Freight Train" or that Tom Waits could sing around his gravelly vocals with such flourish and enthusiasm as on "Tootie Ma Was A Big Fine Thing"? Steve Earle even lightens up from his recent soapboxing for the classic "T’ain’t Nobody’s Business". Other standout tracks includes Pete Seeger’s buoyant take on "Blue Skies", Angelique Kidjo’s torchy jazz on "La Vie En Rose" and the Blind Boys of Alabama’s gospel scorcher, "There Is a Light". While the guests add commercial appeal, they never get in the way of the classic charts laid down by the band. I dare you to sit still while this disc is spinning. Smitty

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Compiled by the WYCE Journalism Club

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