The building that houses Preservation Hall has housed many businesses over the years including a tavern during the war of 1812, a photo studio and an art gallery. It was during the years of the art gallery that then owner, Larry Borenstein, began holding informal jam sessions for his close friends. Out of these sessions grew the concept of Preservation Hall. The intimate venue, whose weathered exterior has been untouched over its history, is a living embodiment of its original vision. To this day, Preservation Hall has no drinks, air conditioning, or other typical accoutrements strictly welcoming people of all ages interested in having one of the last pure music experiences left on the earth.
The PHJB began touring in 1963 and for many years there were several bands successfully touring under the name Preservation Hall. Many of the band’s charter members performed with the pioneers who invented jazz in the early twentieth century including Buddy Bolden, Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong, and Bunk Johnson. Band leaders over the band’s history include the brothers Willie and Percy Humphrey, husband and wife Billie and De De Pierce, famed pianist Sweet Emma Barrett, and in the modern day Wendell and John Brunious. These founding artists and dozens of others passed on the lessons of their music to a younger generation who now follow in their footsteps like the current lineup.
THE PRESERVATION HALL JAZZ BAND IS:
Ben Jaffe/Creative Director & Tuba: As son of co-founders Allan and Sandra Jaffe, Ben has lived his whole life with the rhythm of the French Quarter pulsing through his veins. Raised in the company of New Orleans’ greatest musicians, Ben returned from his collegiate education at Oberlin College in Ohio to play with the group and assume his father’s duties as Director of Preservation Hall. Today he serves as Creative Director for both PHJB and the Hall itself, where he has spearheaded such programs as the New Orleans Musicians Hurricane Relief Fund.
Mark Braud/Trumpet and Vocals: As nephew to two former PHJB leaders, Wendell and John Brunious, Jr., Mark is proud to further his family’s musical legacy in the company of so many historic players. Beginning his career playing with the Olympia Kids, a young players’ offshoot of the famous Olympia Brass Band, Mark has gone on to record, tour, and play with New Orleans legends of both traditional jazz and R&B, including Eddie Bo, Henry Butler, Harry Connick Jr., and Dr. Michael White.
Charlie Gabriel/Clarinet and Vocals: The musical heritage of Charlie Gabriel can be traced back as far back as the 1850s. Great-grandson of New Orleans bass player Narcesse Gabriel, grandson of New Orleans cornet player Martin Joseph, and son of New Orleans drummer and clarinetist Martin Manuel Gabriel, Charlie is truly a living legend. At seventy-six years old, the extensive list of musicians with whom he’s played includes well-known PHJB alumni Kid Howard, Kid Sheik, Jim Robinson, and George Lewis.
Clint Maedgen/Saxophone and Vocals: Though Clint is best known as leader of multi- media alt.cabaret group The New Orleans Bingo! Show, he has been in love with the sound of traditional New Orleans jazz since he was a small child. After studying with clarinet innovator Alvin Batiste at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Clint returned to New Orleans’ French Quarter where he cemented his reputation as an artist and collaborator through an ongoing series of eclectic and experimental musical ensembles. As a full-time member of the PHJB, he brings an infectious passion to both his playing and singing.
Joe Lastie, Jr./Drums: Born and raised in the Lower Ninth Ward, Joe comes from a long line of family members equally dedicated to music and the church. Having played his first job with a rhythm section backing the Desire Community Choir, he would go on to study jazz with Willie Metcalf at the Dryades Street YMCA with classmates Wynton and Branford Marsalis. After a brief move with his family to Queens, New York, Joe returned to New Orleans where he was invited to substitute on drums at Preservation Hall in 1989. He’s been a regular with the band ever since.
Freddie Lonzo/Trombone and Vocals: Born and raised in New Orleans’ Uptown neighborhoods, Freddie was exposed to the music of the streets at a very young age. Having cemented his desire to play New Orleans jazz, these early Second Line parades would later offer him his first professional gig with EG Gabon and Doc Paulin’s Band. A true master of every style of New Orleans music, from marching brass to modern jazz, Freddie’s first appearances with Preservation Hall date back to the mid-eighties when he toured and played with Percy Humphrey and Kid Sheik.
Rickie Monie/Piano: Born and raised in New Orleans’ Ninth Ward to jazz loving church musicians, Rickie was inundated at an early age with the recordings of such great jazz and gospel pianists as Art Tatum, Oscar Peterson, and Teddy Wilson. After majoring in woodwind instruments at Dillard University, Rickie turned back to the piano and picked up work in every style of music. In 1982, Monie got his first call from Preservation Hall, to substitute for the legendary resident pianist Sweet Emma Barret after she suffered a stroke. To the delight of audiences around the world, he’s stayed onboard ever since.