The Preservation Hall Jazz Band appeared on CBS Sunday Morning this past weekend to give viewers a taste of traditional New Orleans Jazz music. Improvising music for over 50 years, the band has traveled the world performing as missionaries for the music of the "Old South."
The CBS crew traveled to the band's home base in the Big Easy, where the band's leader, Ben Jaffe, gave Lesley Stahl a grand tour of Preservation Hall, the band's signature performance venue. The concert hall, which has physically been in existence since 1750, appears almost identical to how it did over 2 centuries ago and has become a popular tourist destination.
The band and the performance hall have quite a lot of historical significance. In the 1960s, Preservation Hall was one of the only places in Louisiana where both white people and black people could gather to enjoy live music. The jazz band also broke social norm by being composed of musicians of different ethnicities. Jaffe explained to Stahl:
"This was the only place in New Orleans where blacks and whites were congregating openly, and where there were mixed bands. That's what they referred to black and whites, musicians performing together. They were mixed bands."
Jaffe also gave the reporter a brief history as to how the iconic venue came to be explaining that his parents were the ones who founded the hall. Both Jazz lovers, Allan and Sandra Jaffe, converted the former art gallery into the historic American institution that it is today.
After being asked why Preservation Hall was so important, Jaffe answered:
"I don't know anywhere else, you know, where you can go and you can listen to a clarinet player whose family has been playing music in New Orleans for seven generations. That's an incredible thing, and that's something that I'm proud to be a part of."
You can catch The Preservation Hall Jazz Band's CBS performance of "Sugar Plum" below: