Personnel: Narvin Kimball (vocals, banjo); Wendell Brunious, Percy Humphrey (vocals, trumpet); James "Sing" Miller (vocals, piano); Sing Miller (vocals); Lars Edegran (banjo); Willie Humphrey (clarinet); Frank Demond (trombone); Allan Jaffe (tuba); Jeanette Kimball, Ellis Marsalis, Rickie Monie (piano); Benjamin Jaffe (double bass); Josiah "Cie" Frazier, Joe Lastie (drums).
Photographer: Lee Friedlander.
Formed in New Orleans in 1961 by tuba player (and later, band producer) Allan Jaffe, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band is a loose confederation of musicians whose musical roots stretch all the way back to French society dances of the 18th century, but perhaps more importantly, encompass the street corner neighborhood ensemble playing that has made New Orleans sound like no other city on earth. Membership in the band is always in constant flux (Preservation has had six different pianists in its history, and three different banjo players, for instance, but only two drummers, Josiah Cie Frazier and Joseph Lastie, Jr.), which may account for the somewhat erratic nature of the group's studio work over the years -- sides can range from impassioned and spirited to surprisingly sedate and by the numbers, but then this is a band that is best comprehended in live performance and always has been. This two-disc set draws from Preservation's lengthy stay with Columbia Records from 1976 to 1992 and since it weeds out the uninspired, it makes for a fine portrait of this venerable band. ~ Steve Leggett