June 17, 2020
“The city lives and breathes music, and Preservation Hall is the heart and soul of that attitude.”
New Orleans’ storied Preservation Jazz Hall Band was founded by tuba player Allan Jaffe during the early 1960s and has been active ever since, with over 50 musicians who have been part of the collective’s past and present formations.
Currently lead by Jaffe’s son Ben – who serves as artistic director as well as a band member – during a 2018 visit to London, the collective laid down an intimate set, captured by filmmakers Steve Mackey and Douglas Hart for the duo’s CALL THIS NUMBER series.
Featuring Charlie Gabriel on saxophone, Branden Lewis on trumpet, Ronell Johnson on trombone, Clint Maedgen on saxophone, Kyle Roussel on keyboard, Walter Harris on drums and Ben Jaffe on bass, watch their mesmerising rendition of ‘MAD’ above.
Find out more about the inspirations behind the film below:
“A few years ago I was lucky enough to get to meet (and record) Ben, Charlie and Walter of The Preservation Hall Jazz Band. New Orleans has a scene like no other… the city lives and breathes music, and Preservation Hall is the heart and soul of that attitude,” shares Steve Mackey.
They made a rare trip to London in 2018 and were gracious enough to come by our garage and let Douglas and I document them for our CALL THIS NUMBER project. They blasted through some tracks and we filmed continuously for 30 minutes.”
“Ben Jaffe – the band leader – is a William Egglestone fan and we had discussed trying to all shoot together one day with these cameras we have. Eggleston shot an amazing film called Stranded in Canton during 1974 around New Orleans and Memphis, with these same Sony Porta Pak cameras. It’s a documentation of the American South during the ’70s, in a beautiful black and white video.
We all loved those images, and Douglas and I had often discussed the look of the film as an inspiration. Hopefully one day soon we’ll get to film these musicians again in their spiritual home – Preservation Hall in New Orleans, Louisiana.”
Speaking about the filming techniques Douglas Hart shared, “the performance was shot with four 1st and 2nd generation Sony portable black and white video cameras. The feed of each camera goes into a video mixer, on which we cut live. The edit is done in the moment, in response to the energy of the sound and the performance of the band in the room. There is no re-edit or any other post-production after the performance.
What happens in the room is the finished film, with all of the spontaneous decisions and happy accidents included.”