Preservation Hall is a humble, much-loved room dedicated to keeping the past and future of jazz alive. It’s a well-worn space that’s physically small but spiritually huge. People from around the globe make pilgrimages to it, and this year, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band is embarking on a pilgrimage of its own: a nationwide tour to celebrate the hall’s 60th anniversary. The band’s mission remains focused on initiating audiences into the ineffable, almost religious experience of channeling their ancestors through the music and culture they’ve inherited from them.
“Touring is a part of our ritual,” Ben Jaffe, creative director of Preservation Hall, adds. “It’s our tradition. When my parents began touring with the band in the early 1960s, they were bringing something that most people didn’t even know existed to stages all over the world. It was this magnificent revelation to people that something so beautiful could even exist. People come to Preservation Hall and have transformative experiences, and that’s part of our mission: to go out in the world and make that experience available to everyone.”