Preservation Hall Jazz Band

The Hurricane Sessions

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Benjamin Jaffe drove to what was left of Seasaint Recording Studios in New Orleans in January of 2006 to see what damage the floodwaters of Hurricane Katrina had wrought on the facility some four months earlier, hoping more than anything to salvage whatever master tapes he could. Amazingly, although most of the studio's tape vault was destroyed, he found the masters for the sessions his father, Allan Jaffe, had produced in the 1970s with the classic lineup of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. Even more amazingly, the masters were still dry and intact mere inches above the waterline. Refurbished, those tapes formed the emotional core of a remarkable box set that bridged the past with the present and essentially told the story of the Preservation band, whose current members, although they ended up scattered across the country from Orlando to Los Angeles, all survived the hurricane and its aftermath. Don't expect the ensemble work Preservation is famous for, though. Jaffe assembled a different kind of history here, combining 1959 vocal performances by Sister Gertrude Morgan, unreleased gems from his father's 1970s sessions with the band, scattered radio and television introductions, and material the group was working on just prior to Katrina into a sort of personal photo album that reverberated with loss even as it suggested a hope in the future. The collectors' set, released in both limited and stripped-down versions in the summer of 2007, was assembled with dozens of very real mementos (photos, press passes, receipts, etc.) from the band's long history, and it was, in a very real sense, a survivor of Katrina. Among the highlights were Sister Gertrude Morgan's emotionally haunting 1959 rendition of "Blow Wind Blow" and a striking version of "Over in the Gloryland" that merged the instrumental track of the tune produced in 1976 by Allan Jaffe with Carl LeBlanc's poignant vocal track added in 2006 and produced by Benjamin Jaffe. This version of The Hurricane Sessions contains the exact same musical tracks and sequence and includes the same DVD disc that came with the original collectors' box (which featured a Henry Griffin-directed video of the group covering the Kinks' "Complicated Life" plus rare footage of Preservation in concert and working in the studio) but doesn't include the mementos and bric bac Like the earlier (and fancier) editions, though, this package still makes a great introduction to a wonderful New Orleans band, a band that has always understood history in all of its guises, and has quite literally lived it.

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