The Preservation Hall Jazz Band derives its name from Preservation Hall, the venerable music venue located in the heart of New Orleans’ French Quarter, founded in 1961 by Allan and Sandra Jaffe. The band has traveled worldwide spreading their mission to nurture and perpetuate the art form of New Orleans Jazz. Whether performing at Carnegie Hall or Lincoln Center, for British Royalty or the King of Thailand, this music embodies a joyful, timeless spirit. Under the auspices of current director, Ben Jaffe, the son of founders Allan and Sandra, Preservation Hall continues with a deep reverence and consciousness of its greatest attributes in the modern day as a venue, band, and record label.
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.
Stephen Lands/Trumpet and Vocals: Born and raised in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Lands’ initial introduction to music, as is the case with a lot of Louisiana musicians, was in the church. As he grew older, physically as well as musically, he found himself involved in a wide array of musical styles, including Reggae, Brass band, Jazz, Funk, Rock, and R&B sharing stages the world-over with artists like Mary Mary, Kim Burrell, Mint Condition, The Marsalis family, Erykah Badu, and Davell Crawford. A dazzling improviser and soloist, the trumpeter’s knowledge and feel of music shines brightly with every note played, and audiences the world over can attest to his ability.
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 eighty-one 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.
Walter Harris/Drums: Walter’s musical backgrounds began at home, where his father was a guitarist and mother a vocalist. He grew up in a well-rounded spectrum of musicians, which led to the inspiration of his career as a drummer. He was exposed to a wide variety of talent within his family circuit on both sides of his family, being the nephew of the Brooks’ family and the Harris family gave Walter the opportunity to be exposed to all genres and aspects of music.
He got his start at early age, playing drums in church with his grandfather George A. Brooks Sr., leader of the Masonic Kings Gospel Quartet. This experience led to his love for the drums and exposure to play drums in front of a live audience. From that point forward, Walter has broadened his horizons into all different genres of music; Jazz, Gospel, Country, R&B, Blues and Hip Hop.
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.
Ronell Johnson/Tuba, Trombone and Vocals: Born and raised in New Orleans, Ronell started on the trumpet and piano around the age of 6. He is from a musical family and was taught to play, in the beginning, by his three older brothers who are also professional musicians. Also, he and his brothers are the great-nephews of Joseph "Kid Twat" Butler, who was the string bass player with the legendary Kid Thomas Valentine and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. Ronell is recognized around the world and in a host of magazines and journals as one of New Orleans' prized musicians who adds a lot of energy, animation, humor, and fire to the band stand.