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    If you can't actually be there, there's no better way to get a taste of real New Orleans than to hear that city's premiere jazz band share the music that makes Preservation Hall such a historic landmark in the jazz tradition. 

    Bomhard Theater hosted an appreciative crowd Sunday night, ready to clap, sing, and even dance along with the band members who make up the current Preservation Hall Jazz Band. Creative Director, tuba player, bassist -- and relative youngster -- Ben Jaffe introduced a group of veteran virtuosos that includes 81-year-old Charlie Gabriel on clarinet and tenor sax. Gabriel still has some dance moves to go along with his artful play, and adds warm vocals on soulful songs like "I Think I Love You" and "Come With Me." 

    The powerful horn section also featured Clint Maegden on saxophone, trumpeter Mark Braud, and trombonist Ronell Johnson, who often sparked the crowd with his humor and energetic style, leading a little audience participation on the rousing samba-infused "Halfway Right."

    PHJB led into the encore with the title song from their latest album, "That's It," which showcases the talents of each musician -- the driving Latin beat of drummer Joe Lastie, a monster tuba line, and the blazing brass blasts that evoke the Gatsby-era heyday of hot clubs and exuberant excess. It's a fantastic number that tempts even the rhythm-challenged to jump around in their seats.

    PHJB may be one of the venerable icons of New Orleans Jazz, but they proved that you can uphold tradition and still sound fresh and engaging to new audiences.

    Ben Jaffe and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band 

    Selena Frye's picture

    About Selena Frye

    I'm a writer and editor living in Louisville since 1996. I'm originally from the Blue Ridge of Virginia.

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