Concert Critique: Preservation Hall Jazz Band | Teen Ink

Concert Critique: Preservation Hall Jazz Band

May 13, 2019
By zaneyboo21 SILVER, Conroe, Texas
zaneyboo21 SILVER, Conroe, Texas
8 articles 0 photos 0 comments

Favorite Quote:
“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”
― Oscar Wilde

Concert Critique: Preservation Hall Jazz Band

Preservation Hall is a music venue located in New Orleans, Louisiana. Opened in 1961, Preservation Hall has been the home to traditional Jazz music. This historical place’s goal is to preserve Jazz music. The Preservation Hall Jazz Band has done an exceptional job of reviving traditional Jazz. The Preservation Hall Jazz Band consisted of five musicians, including Ben Jaffe on Bass, Walter Harris on Drums, Charlie Gabriel on Clarinet, Kyle Roussel on Piano, and Branden Lewis on Vocals and trumpet. The band’s repertoire consisted of a total of three traditional Jazz songs. The songs are Tailgate Ramble, Basin Street Blues, and Bourbon Street Parade.

Tailgate Ramble, the first song that was played, was originally performed by Wingy Manone in 1964. The lyrics of the song are very short. The lyrics talk about a teenager who sits on the back of his truck and watches a jazz band parade around the town of New Orleans. The song relies on the use of trumpet and clarinet. Unlike most Jazz music, this song is mainly polyphonic instead of homophonic. This song used a lot of imitative polyphony. Imitative polyphony is when various melodic lines use the same themes. In the song, the trumpet will play a theme that would later be repeated by the clarinet. The music also used syncopations which are the accenting of certain beats. The syncopation is caused by Walter Harris’s, the drummer, drumsticks. The song used the chromatic scale. The chromatic scale is a musical scale with twelve pitches. It is represented by both the white and black keys of the piano.

The second song, Basin Street Blues, was unique compared to the other Jazz songs that were played. Basin Street Blues was originally performed by Louis Armstrong. The song is about taking a slow cruise down the Mississippi River. This song was a lot slower compared to the other songs and used a lot of piano accompaniment. Call and response was used frequently in this song. Call and response is when a phrase that is performed by a soloist is repeated again and again by a larger group or chorus. In the song, the trumpet would play the main phrase while the other   instruments repeated that same phrase throughout the entire piece. After each repeated phrase, an instrumental cadenza was performed. A cadenza is an improvised passage at the end of a movement that shows a soloist’s skill. For example, in one of the cadenzas, the pianist, Kyle Roussel, showed how fast he could play the piano.

The third and final song, Bourbon Street Parade, was originally performed by Louis Armstrong. This song is about all the famous landmarks in New Orleans that are found on Bourbon Street. The song was mainly homophonic with polyphonic tendencies. This song had more vocals compared to the two previous songs. Improvisation was the main focus of this song. Improvisation is a musical term that refers to playing a piece of music that is not planned. Improvisation is notably common in Jazz music. Improvisation affected the music by making it more spontaneous and surprising. The Preservation Hall Jazz band made the use of improv unique because the improvisational parts that were confined in the music were made up of excerpts from arrangements of well-known songs. For example, in the song “Basin Street Blues,” the pianist, Kyle Roussel, played the main motif of Beethoven’s “Fur Elise”. Their use of improvisation adds a personal touch to these famous Jazz songs. The song also had scat. Scat is a type of vocal improvisation that is wordless or uses syllables that sound like nonsense. In scat singing, the singer improvises melodies and rhythms. The singer, Branden Lewis, only used scat at the end of a movement during a cadenza.

The musicians used entertainment value to keep the audience from being bored. Audience participation was the thing that stood out the most in the entertainment value. Things such as telling the audience to clap or repeat a line in the song boosted the audience’s moods and kept them from falling asleep. The band also gave some background information on each song so that the audience knows the composers' intentions for writing that song.

The author's comments:

This review is about a Jazz concert I went to in New Orleans.

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