The brass band boys were out again tonight, and we caught them just starting up. I think they are trying to do a Brazilian thing, and they were very good, but we couldn’t stay long as we were off to Preservation Hall.
This is an old building on St. Peter’s just south of Bourbon. It looks like it is falling apart, it is quite dark inside, and the seating is mainly wooden benches and cushions. You pay $10 to get in for the night. The bar consists of a bucket of water bottles, but you are welcome to wander in and out to get drinks. (We popped out briefly for some soul food at the nearby Old Coffee Pot). This place makes no concessions. It is all about the jazz.
Although they have a resident band (who once supported the Grateful Dead at Filmore West), they feature other bands as well. Tonight we saw the St Peter’s All Stars, which I suspect might mean whoever they can get together for a night. They play traditional tunes. There is nothing electronic in sight, not even a microphone. And they take requests. If you know a traditional jazz song, the chances are they’ll have it in their repertoire.
I’m not a great one for sticking with tradition myself. I like to see people experiment. But equally it is great that other people like to preserve the way things once were. This is jazz as it used to be, and in this small corner of New Orleans, as it always will be.
Kevin, who is a clarinet player himself, will probably have something to say about the amazing instrument we saw in use tonight.
Update: here’s Kevin’s take.