To celebrate their 50th anniversary the Preservation Hall Jazz Band took their show on the road to one of the most famous stages in the world, Carnegie Hall. Inviting friends along for the event the group played their hot style of jazz and blues to a receptive crowd on a cold New York City night and their newest release St. Peter & 57th St
. is a live recording of that eventful night.
Preservation Hall Jazz Band are Mark Braud (Trumpet/Vocals), Charlie Gabriel (Clarinet/Vocals), Clint Maedgen (Saxophone/Vocals), Freddie Lonzo (Trombone), Rickie Monie (Piano), Joe Lastie (Drums) and Ben Jaffe who is the Creative Director of the band along with his duties on the Tuba and Bass.
The band kept things flowing, but let their friends take over the spotlight more often then not. The Givers lead singer Tiffany Lamson performed a memorable version of “Just A Closer Walk With Thee” backed by clarinet while Allen Toussaint playing “Preservation Hall Jazz Band” backed by the boys is a tune worthy of preservation indeed.
The album messes with the order of night’s performers, but the best moments come later on this disk with Tao Seeger adding some habanera spice to things with “El Manicero” before the tag team of two distinct versions of “St James Infirmary”. The first is a spotlight for Jim James to croon and shout over, while the second (and better) gives the brass and bouncing drums a chance as the full complement of My Morning Jacket, King Britt and Trombone Shorty gets things cooking.
Clint Maedgen keeps singing for the funky, swinging “Tootie Ma” before vocalist Yasiin Bey (Mos Def) takes over on an updated to address BP version of “It Ain’t My Fault” with Trombone Shorty and Allen Toussaint joining back in as well. Live albums usually fall into two categories, warts and all full releases or polished and edited down for (perceived) maximum effect; that is what Preservation Hall Jazz Band has done here, in the process diluting the overall impact.
Some of the night’s highest points just aren’t represented such as “Ma Maison” with its beefy rhythms below swirling runs (all in front of masked skull dancers) or Steve Earle’s amazing, spiritual set closing collaboration with PHJB on “This City”. While St. Peter & 57th St.
is a solid documentation of that special night in January 2011, it also proves that you need to be there in the moment to experience the full sensations of music, dance and performance.