Preservation Hall Jazz Band

Although New Orleans' traditional jazz scene had many top players in the 1950s, there was no one center for the city's veteran greats to play. In 1961, local art dealer Larry Borenstein opened a building in the French Quarter called Preservation Hall. The young tuba player Allan Jaffe ran the hall and organized tours for the musicians who often performed there, naming the band after the venue. In the Hall's early days, the key musicians included, at various times, trumpeters Kid Thomas Valentine, Punch Miller, or De De Pierce; trombonists Louis Nelson or Jim Robinson; clarinetists George Lewis, Albert Burbank, or Willie Humphrey; and pianists Joseph Robichaux, Billie Pierce, or Sweet Emma Barrett. By the early '70s, trumpeter Percy Humphrey, his brother Willie on clarinet, and trombonist Jim Robinson (who, after his death in 1976, was succeeded by Frank Demond) usually comprised the front line. The deaths of the Humphreys and Percy's occasional fill-in Kid Sheik Colar in the mid-'90s signalled more lineup changes. Four decades after the group's genesis, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band continues to honor the musical traditions of New Orleans, despite these switches in personnel.