Preservation Hall Jazz Band: Shake It and Break It


Shake It and Break It


Preservation Hall Jazz Band


New Orleans - Volume 2 (Columbia 37780)

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Percy Humphrey (trumpet, vocal), Willie Humphrey (clarinet), Frank Demond (trombone), Allan Jaffe (tuba), James Miller (piano), Narvin Kimball (banjo), Josiah Frazier (drums)


Recorded: New Orleans, 1981


Rating: 86/100 (learn more)

The resurgence of interest in early New Orleans jazz by scholars and their attempts to recreate the early sounds of the music started some four decades before this track was recorded. By the time we get to this 1981 recording, the opening song on an album for the dominant multinational music corporation of its day, even the revivalists needed some reviving. For my part, I refuse to believe that Columbia's advocacy of this ensemble had anything to do with their success with the 1981 debut of a prominent young New Orleans trumpeter whose initials are W.M., and the label's coincidental signing of a whole roster of other artists from the Big Easy. Those folks in the big offices just love the music....

Well, this song will at least get grandpa perking up his ears, and maybe even out of his easy chair. If Percy Humphrey's vocal were any grittier, you could sand down at least two of the exterior walls of Preservation Hall with it. And brother Willie's clarinet solo is fine and fluttery, with bird-call like figures, friendly patterns, and even a few phrases that might have been improvised. Jazz purists will have little patience for the 1960s-era institution masquerading as an authentic piece of early New Orleans history, but only a sourpuss would denounce all this lighthearted fun. And it was probably better that the tourists spent their money at Preservation Hall than down at Big Daddy's Gentlemen's Club.

Reviewer: Ted Gioia


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