New Orleans, LA

A venue rich in Jazz History: New Orleans Preservation Hall

Pierre St-Jean

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NEW ORLEANS, LA — Talking about the jazz music scene in New Orleans, we cannot leave out the historic landmark of the Preservation Hall. Located at 726 St. Peter Street, the Preservation Hall has hosted over 350 concerts a year with ensembles from over fifty local master musicians.

The history of Preservation Hall can be traced back to the 1950s. Larry Borenstein opened Associated Artists, a small art gallery. After opening the gallery, he realized he was able to attend fewer remaining local jazz concerts. So, he decided to invite these musicians to perform “rehearsal sessions” in the gallery. Few of those musicians are George Lewis, De De Pierce, The Humphrey Brothers and many more—all living legends of New Orleans Jazz.

In the 1960s, The Jaffes couple arrived in New Orleans and met with a few jazz musicians in Jackson Square. This is where they heard of Mr. Larry's Gallery". As big fans of jazz, they were curious and decided to follow these musicians. What they found left them awe-struck.

Borenstein then decided to move his gallery to the next-door building, as the nightly jam sessions became more frequent. Performances were held for donations, organized by a non-profit organization, The New Orleans Society for The Preservation of Traditional Jazz. Later on, Borenstein passed the nightly operation of the hall to Allan Jaffe—and the Preservation Hall was born.

The Preservation Hall’s nightly jazz performances earned an immense amount of interest both from local media to national outlets, such as The New York Times and the Brinkley News Hour. Preservation Hall supported the culture of traditional jazz in New Orleans, which is a mix of African, Caribbean and European musical traditions. It served as a rare space where musicians and audiences, no matter the race, shared music, even during the Jim Crow era.

In 1963, Allan Jaffe organized Preservation Hall Jazz Band to tour the Midwest to keep the hall alive. The tour was a complete success, and the rediscovery of New Orleans all the way to Japan. After that, the band continued with the tour and they were also featured on numerous musical performances.

After the passing of Allan Jaffe in 1987, Preservation Hall and The Preservation Hall Jazz Band are now led by Jaffe’s second son, Benjamin.

Until today, Preservation Hall still serves as one of the main venues for jazz performances. If you come down to the French Quarter, make sure to spend at least one night from Thursday to Sunday to experience the magic of jazz at the Preservation Hall.

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