New Orleans is an incredible city and one of its special traits is its amazing musical tradition, particularly New Orleans jazz. I am not nearly as eloquent as Dave or Kyle when it comes to this genre, but I do know when I hear something that moves me, which is what happened when I listened to one of the most famous fixtures on the local scene: the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. This is a collection of musicians that regularly perform at the legendary venue that gives them their name. While Hurricane Katrina forced the Hall to close its doors, I'm happy to say it was only temporary. Since reopening, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band has been going as strong as ever.
I just discovered a fantastic album that was released on Mardi Gras of this year. It is a collection of 25 songs with the band and a variety of guests, including Andrew Bird, Tom Waits, Jim James, Ani DiFranco, and Pete Seeger – and that's just within the first seven tracks! The combination of this treasured band and a diverse group of talented collaborators truly makes this a must hear. On top of the amazing music, this is also a benefit album. All proceeds go to the Hall and its music outreach program. Buying this is definitely a win-win.
I bought the album yesterday evening so I'm not ready to do a full review, but I want to share one of my favorite tracks so far. It is the opening cut on An Album to Benefit Preservation Hall & The Preservation Hall Music Outreach Program and was my introduction to the release. The song is called "Shake It and Break It," and it features Andrew Bird, an excellent multi-instrumentalist and songwriter. He often creates fascinating and moving pieces built from different loops, and which draw equally upon classical, jazz, and pop. I have always dug his voice but never heard him quite like this and I like it. It's a very infectious tune and you can tell that the band effortlessly balances its excellent cohesion with integrating the guest's distinct talents. I especially enjoy the inclusion of Andrew Bird's trademark whistling – the man is a hell of a whistler.
Take a listen to this wonderful song. After hearing it, I couldn't help buying the whole album. If you want to, you can do that here.
Preservation Hall Jazz Band featuring Andrew Bird – Shake It And Break It