Preservation Hall Jazz Band 

May 9, Robinson Center Music Hall


I probably could've written this review seven months ago. Or whenever the ASO announced that the Preservation Hall Jazz Band would close out the 2008-2009 Symphony Pops series. Because as it was, is and will always be: A symphony orchestra and a New Orleans jazz band don't belong together.

Improvisation, for one, is a wedge between the styles. A conductor, of course, interprets scores, but there's not a freewheeling sense within the orchestra itself: The third chair violinist will never stretch a solo an extra few measures if she's feeling it. The spirit of jazz is in improv — in the back and forth between the band and the audience.

Thankfully, the arrangements the ASO had to work with weren't too fussy (PHJB is played with other symphony orchestras, so surely someone associated with the band provided the arrangements).

Instead, they seemed to be intended to make the orchestra sound more playful (the members of the ASO all wore one strand of Mardi Gras beads, too). Many of the string arrangements were played pizzicato. A flute solo tried to lift up a second line beat.

Mostly, the ASO just sounded superfluous. Good thing, then, that Preservation Hall Jazz Band delivered a bravura performance that almost made you forget everything else. With a seven-piece band that included trombone, trumpet, alto sax, banjo, piano, stand-up bass and drums, PHJB delivered a survey of traditional New Orleans jazz that sounded vibrant. They were no museum piece offering a novelty slice of New Orleans.

Walter Payton, the father of Grammy Award-winning trumpeter Nicholas Payton, has played on dozens of New Orleans' most famous cuts, including Lee Dorsey's “Working in a Coalmine.” Joe Lastie Jr. is one of the city's most famous drummers. Carl Le Banc, on banjo, has collaborated with Sun Ra and Screamin' Jay Hawkins. And on and on.

Befitting their experience, Preservation Hall Jazz Band played casually, usually seated, swaying, exhorting each other along with shouts and even dancing a little. Everyone got a few solo turns, and trumpeter Mark Braud (at 34, the band's youngest member) sang a few times.

In the early part of their set, PHJB encouraged people to dance. This being the symphony, the closest, early on, anyone got to that was a lady whipping a handkerchief back in forth like she was at port saying au revoir to a sailor.

But then the band stirred the audience up with a second line beat and several players dropped down into the audience and recruited a pretty long train of folks to follow them around the hall. There was laughing and arhythmic dancing. Surely, all those getting down have never had a better time. Maybe that's why you pair Preservation Hall Jazz Band with the symphony.



From the ArkTimes store


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Most Shared

  • So much for a school settlement in Pulaski County

    The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Cynthia Howell got the scoop on what appears to be coming upheaval in the Pulaski County School District along with the likely end of any chance of a speedy resolution of school desegregation issues in Pulaski County.
  • Riverfest calls it quits

    The board of directors of Riverfest, Arkansas's largest and longest running music festival, announced today that the festival will no longer be held. Riverfest celebrated its 40th anniversary in June. A press release blamed competition from other festivals and the rising cost of performers fees for the decision.
  • Football for UA Little Rock

    Andrew Rogerson, the new chancellor at UA Little Rock, has decided to study the cost of starting a major college football team on campus (plus a marching band). Technically, it would be a revival of football, dropped more than 60 years ago when the school was a junior college.
  • Turn to baseball

    When the world threatens to get you down, there is always baseball — an absorbing refuge, an alternate reality entirely unto itself.

Latest in Music Reviews

  • Cher in North Little Rock

    March 28, Verizon Arena
    • Apr 3, 2014
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers at Verizon

    The Red Hot Chili Peppers took a slightly different musical path to its May induction into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame than most of their fellow honorees.
    • Oct 31, 2012
  • Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, Sept. 30

    The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra opened its season Saturday night with a return visit by the 28-year-old violin virtuoso Augustin Hadelich, who had appeared with the orchestra in the Beethoven concerto two years ago.
    • Oct 3, 2012
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »


2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31  

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Spero heads up songwriting camp

    • A good step in the right direction! Another step would be to unite the women…

    • on July 17, 2017
  • Re: Walter was the worst

    • What a lame review. Walter Becker was never Steely Dan's guitar star...they left that to…

    • on July 17, 2017

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation