Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

50 Years of Jazz Despite Everything

The Preservation Hall Jazz Band have seen it all – war, segregation, hurricanes – they may have closed the band down, but in the name of jazz and New Orleans, they rose each time stronger than ever. There is something about New Orleans resilience that keeps me coming back every year since Hurricane Katrina to help rebuild something that must not be lost. 

So it is that we are celebrating a half century of one of jazz’s landmark institutions. Last month, NPR paid tribute to the band and I want to add my admiration for their talent, freedom of expression, and their resilience. Good music can’t be kept down. You don’t have to be a jazz aficionado to appreciate the fusion of talent and energy when this band is on stage.

Big jazz bands are not necessarily the choice of music of the younger generations, but I have seen my sons join me at the screen and admire the vibrancy they saw before them. There is nothing technological, no slick videos or lyrics, which attract my boys and their friends, but they can understand what I feel. They are touched. Seeds are sowed. Jazz will live on. So will The Preservation Hall Band. Below is a short but wonderful tribute.

Happy 50th Anniversary.


Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Jewish Student Center, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com and on Twitter (@alonshalevsf).

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One thought on “50 Years of Jazz Despite Everything

  1. Great stuff! Jazz is, more than anything else, America’s own music. It was created here, actually in New Orleans.


    Pretty much my favorite music these days is jazz, although my preference is the piano, bass, drum trio – exemplified by great players like Oscar Peterson.

    I hope these guys keep swingin’ on for a long time.

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