December 18, 2010

Preservation Hall Jazz Band - Kennedy Center - December 17, 2010

Merrily we (laissez les bon temps) roll along...

No pics inside the theater... oh the redcoats.
Our manifesto needs a major edit: we no longer have a blind spot for jazz music.  We in fact have a soft spot for it, in the form of what will now be THREE reviews for the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.

Sure, it's not such a stretch for us, what with their brand of brass's melody and pattern, and their prior pairing with Yim Yames.  Yet at the Kennedy Center Friday night for their Creole Christmas show, it felt like we were the only non-traditionalists in the venue (yes, I'm referring to the walker-lined aisles).

I hope, however, that this brand of jazz lives to see another generation of ardent supporters.  It was virtually impossible to get tickets, making ours particularly golden: the show illuminated an admittedly buttoned-up, sometimes dusty venue with a life it rarely sees.  

Don't let the title fool you--there was definitely more creole than Christmas in this show.  In total just four Christmas songs peppered the setlist: Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire, Bells Will be Ringing, Oh Christmas Tree (a version that included the title lyrics sung over and over), and a song I'm pretty sure they made up.  In between each, we were treated to piano and trombone solos by clear masters of their instruments, sweet trumpet and vocal-filled songs such as Short Dress Gal and My Sweet Substitute, and a whole lot of energy.

An obvious highlight emerged in the form of a second line parade, started by the band to close the show (pre-encore).  Families and older folks alike followed the band around the terrace theater, through the exits and back down the aisles, cutting loose in a way I bet few of these people rarely do.  It was a spectacle, complete with a boa-lined parasol, and two little girls playing piano with the band's virtuoso.

The Preservation Hall Jazz Band charmed me that night yet again, but there was something about seeing all those uptight Washingtonians dancing to When the Saint's Go Marching In that felt a little inauthentic, albeit cute.  So a few songs into the show, I mentally mapped out a trip to New Orleans.  Check out the scorecard for more info (forthcoming).

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