Published Jul 06, 2013Preservation Hall Jazz Band, founded in 1961 as the house band for a venue of the same name in New Orleans' French Quarter, has been a revolving door for some of the city's most qualified and talented musicians. So it's no surprise that their appearance at the Montreal Jazz Festival was anything short of a spectacularly deft display of musicianship.
Appearing as an eight-piece at the Jean-Duceppe Theatre in Montreal's Place des Arts, the band played far too short a set for the New Orleans lovers among us (myself included). The hour-and-a-half long set featured both original material and covers, with the only disappointment being the absence of gospel standard "I'll Fly Away."
Still, the band made a point of including some of their most iconic songs, including their take on "Tootie Ma Is a Big Fine Thing," originally recorded by Danny Barker in 1947, before sending everyone home with a mandatory rendition of "When The Saints Go Marching In."
The band also took the opportunity to play material from the upcoming That's It!, their first full-length of original material in their entire 52-year history. Sung by trombone player Freddie Lonzo, "Rattlin' Bones" is a haunting romp down Frenchmen Street, while tuba player Ronell Johnson delivered the Latin-flavoured "Halfway Right, Halfway Wrong."
The venue, a dark (and air-conditioned!) theatre, was fine, though it left little room for people to get up and dance. Even so, by the start of the second encore, everyone was standing anyway.