BWW Reviews: Preservation Hall Band Jazzes Up Blossom

August 29
2:10 PM 2012

BWW Reviews: Preservation Hall Band Jazzes Up Blossom

New Orleans' Preservation Hall is a small weathered music venue in the heart of the French Quarter.  Its jazz band was founded in 1961 by Allan and Sandra Jaffe.  Since its inception the group has travelled world wide spreading the New Orleans sound, which centers on creating a joyful spirit.

In its own intimate setting the band fits like an old shoe, with The Players creating sounds which seems informal, almost like a jam session without structure.  In fact, the talented collection of marvelous musicians start out with a preset head, which introduces the tune.  Then The Players embellish on that theme, and return to conclude the leitmotif. 

Blossom is not an intimate venue.  It mattered little to the Preservation group.  They created intimacy by speaking to the audience, getting the listeners' involved through cues for cadence clapping, dancing in place, and encouraging applause for instrumental solos.  The Players yelled encouragement to each other, made comments, and generally enjoyed themselves while creating a joyous audience experience.

The band is headed by Ben Jaffe, the son of the group's founders.  An Oberlin graduate, he introduced one of his college professors and invited the audience to visit the new jazz building on the Oberlin campus.

Song choices included Bourbon Street Parade, Tailgate Ramble, Old Man MoseIce Cream, Tootie Ma, and I'll Fly Away.

The group's version of Ain't She Sweet took the audience on a trip to the true joys of jazz.

Mark Braud on trumpet, Freddie Lonzo, trombone, Rickie Monie, piano, Clint Madgen, tenor sax, Ronell Johnson, tuba, and Joseph Lastie Jr, drums, gave a lesson on what it's like to be in the presence of musical greatness.  Eighty-year old Charlie Gabriel, danced as he played his clarinet, and let loose with mello sounds as he sang.  He was an obvious audience favorite.

Alex, my sixteen year-old, award winning composing grandson, who has just returned from a summer studying composition and jazz piano at Interlochen, the renowned arts camp in Michigan, was overjoyed with the program.  He commented on the group's ability to build and bound off each other, and capture the audience's attention.   I think nothing would have made him happier than to have been able to slide onto the piano bench and jam with those guys. 

Capsule judgement:  The exciting and involving Preservation Hall Jazz Band, perfect weather, and the beautiful Blossom setting-what else could anyone want?

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Roy Berko Roy Berko, a life-long Clevelander, holds degrees, through the doctorate from Kent State, University of Michigan and The Pennsylvania State University. Roy was an actor for many years, appearing in more than 16 plays, 8 TV commercials, and 3 films. He has directed more than 30 productions. A member of the American Critics Association, the Dance Critics Association and The Cleveland Critics Circle, he has been an entertainment reviewer for more than twenty years.

For many years he was a regular on Channel 5, ABC-Cleveland's "Morning Exchange" and "Live on 5," serving as the stations communication consultant. He has also appeared on "Good Morning America." Roy served as the Director of Public Relations for the Volunteer Office in the White House during the first Clinton Administration.

He is a professor of communication and psychology who taught at George Washington University, University of Maryland, Notre Dame College of Ohio and Towson University. Roy is the author of 31 books. Several years ago, he was selected by Cleveland Magazine as one of the most interesting people in Cleveland.


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