Album : Preservation Hall Jazz Band : 50th Anniversary Collection

One of my favorite things in the whole wide world is traditional New Orleans jazz. Another thing that brings a smile to my face is the amazing rejuvenation of N’awlins after the last eight years-or-so of, er, challenges.

Not that Preservation Hall Jazz Band says anything particular about that in its new four-disc retrospective. But all the crazy joy and painful poignancy of the city and its music are represented therein. Standout tracks from the ensemble’s rich history have been gathered for the 50th Anniversary Collection, with includes five previously unissued gems. And while the band soldiers on without saying much about living in a city that came awfully close to swimming with the fishes, it should be noted that the newly issued tracks – “In the Evening (When the Sun Goes Down),” “Precious Lord,” “C.C. Rider,” “Nellie Grey,” and “I Get the Blues When It Rains” – were all taken from tapes that were nearly decimated when Hurricane Katrina tore through the band’s studios in 2005. Producer and musician Ben Jaffe was able to recover and restore some of these recordings.

Songs featuring guest performers include Yim Yames (“Louisiana Fairytale”), Tom Waits (“Tootie Ma Is a Big Fine Thing”), Pete Seeger (“We Shall Overcome”), Andrew Bird (“Shake It and Break It”), and Richie Havens (“Trouble In Mind”). Artists who contributed to other tracks include Ani DiFranco, Dr. John, Brandi Carlile, and Jason Isbell.

Among this collection’s delights is the band’s cover of the Kinks’ “Complicated Life”:

Legacy Recordings has assembled an enticing boxed set for the 50th Anniversary Collection, which can be accessed at the band’s (and Preservation Hall institution’s) site.

Post by Mary Leary

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