Preservation Hall Jazz Band

A Tuba to Cuba

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The soundtrack to the 2019 documentary film A Tuba to Cuba is a vibrant album featuring songs the Preservation Hall Jazz Band recorded while on tour in Cuba and after returning home to New Orleans. Also included are a handful of archival songs recorded by previous incarnations of the storied ensemble. As with many of the group's recent albums, including 2013's That's It! and 2016's So It Is, A Tuba to Cuba showcases the band's abundantly cross-pollinated brand of traditional New Orleans jazz. While the titular tuba, played here by bandleader Ben Jaffe, takes a central role on the album, so do many of the Cuban musical traditions the Preservation Hall encountered on their journey. Several of the songs here -- like the buoyant, handclap-driven "Tumba" and the jubilantly funky "Keep Your Head Up" with vocalist Eme Alfonso -- sound more like impromptu jams, deftly combining Afro-Cuban percussion rhythms with New Orleans Mardi Gras energy. Similarly engaging is the upbeat "I Am," with its ringing trumpet melody line, and the mid-tempo stroll of "Kreyol." Also adding a cross-cultural flavor are vintage archival tracks like Alejandro Almenares' yearning guitar/vocal feature "Las Palomas" from the 1940s and Billie & De De Pierce's jubilant rendition of the traditional Cuban song "La Manicero" (aka "The Peanut Vendor"), which was plucked from the Preservation Hall's own musical vaults. More than just a souvenir of an affectionately captured journey, A Tuba to Cuba is a heartfelt celebration of the richly shared musical heritage that connects New Orleans and Cuba.

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