Monday, February 15, 2010

Preservation-An Album To Benefit Preservation Hall & The Preservation Hall Music Outreach Program

With the attention on the great city of New Orleans that has surfaced since the tragedy of Katrina and now the celebration of the amazing Super Bowl victory of The Saints, the time seems perfect for this release. The music of New Orleans has rightfully been singled out as the city's greatest contribution to culture, and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band are emblematic of one of the more important facets of that music. Their traditional, perfectionist take on brass band jazz sets the standard and keeps the tradition beautifully preserved for future generations. Preservation pairs the band with a variety of contemporary artists to glorious results. The list of artists is varied, drawing from rock, folk, bluegrass and world music to create a whole that shines a light on the joyous feelings the Preservation Hall Jazz Band bring to whatever they are playing.

Kicking off with Andrew Bird and moving to Paolo Nutini (two pretty distinctive modern artists) it is immediately apparent that the guest artists involved will be playing it the Preservation way, not the other way around. With very few exceptions, everyone plays it straight and lets Preservation Hall be the star of the show. Highlights of the modern artists include Yim Yames of My Morning Jacket doing "Louisiana Fairytale," a revved up Ani Difranco's take on "Freight Train" and Steve Earle's appropriate take on "T'aint Nobody's Business." On the more traditional side, Dr. John is perfectly greasy on "Winin' Boy," The Blind Boys Of Alabama raise spirits on "There is a Light," Bluegrass legend Del McCoury fits like hand in glove on "After You've Gone," Pete Seeger and his son Tao Rodriguez-Seeger are warmly familiar on "Blue Skies" and a Louis Armstrong vocal is lifted for a new version of "Rockin' Chair" that couldn't sound more right.

For me, the real winners of this consistently winning set were Tom Waits and Angelique Kidjo. Waits tackles "Tootie Was My Big Fine Thing" and it is absolutely classic Waits. He is truly a genius who can make anything familiar weird, and vice-versa. Angelique Kidjo pairs with New Orleans Trumpeter (and son of Preservation Member Walter Blanchard) Terence Blanchard to deliver a spellbinding version of "La Vie En Rose." Her exotic voice offers the perfect contrast to the rock solid Americana background provided by Preservation.

Two other things worthy of note:
There is a deluxe version that comes with a second disc that contains an additional 6 songs, including another essential Waits contribution "Corinne Died On The Battlefield," and a second Yim Yames contribution-the spooky "St. James Infirmary." Very worth while in my opinion.

On release day - Tuesday we will be celebrating this great release by having two authentic King Cakes shipped up from New Orleans. Come by starting at 3:00 pm, have some King Cake, listen to the album and feel some pride for one of the things that makes America great.
Click Here for more information about King Cakes and Mardi Gras

Paul Epstein

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