This week, World Cafe invites you to discover the music of New Orleans with the series Sense of Place.
World Cafe, with host David Dye, presents a special performance of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, recorded in the birthplace of jazz. It's a special "tuba summit" in two parts, focusing on the tuba players from some New Orleans staples and their connection to the famous Preservation Hall Jazz Band. Ben Jaffe is the current director of the PHJB, and from good New Orleans stock — in fact, his parents founded the Hall. The group itself is world-renowned, playing at Carnegie Hall and for British Royalty in its quest to bring New Orleans jazz to everyone.
Jaffe plays the sousaphone, upright bass and banjo. Phil Frazier, another tuba player, is at the heart of another famous New Orleans jazz group, which he founded while in high school 27 years ago. The Rebirth Brass Band is true to its name, bringing hope to a city that's been through a lot — it played for countless evacuees in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Kirk Joseph is the third skilled tuba player in this group, and he helped found Dirty Dozen Brass Band, which has revived much of the brass-band culture in New Orleans today. Joseph is known for his modern tuba style, which incorporates elements of Dixieland jazz and funk.
In this interview, Dye talks with Jaffe about the fascinating history of PHJB and its decades-long history of high-profile touring. Next up, Joseph and Frazier discuss the tuba's evolution in New Orleans music and compare the instrument to the quarterback of a football team — there's only one, and it's a key position. The session is rounded out by a number of jazz pieces, recorded live.