Preservation Hall Jazz Band celebrates first original album, first time at The Apollo

Photo provided by Legacy --  Preservation Hall Jazz Band, from left, Ben Jaffe, Clint Maeggen, Mark Braud, Ronell Johnson, Freddie Lonzo, Joseph Lastie Jr., Rickie Monie and Charlie Gabriel. Show caption
Photo provided by Legacy -- Preservation Hall Jazz Band, from left, Ben Jaffe, Clint Maeggen, Mark Braud, Ronell Johnson, Freddie Lonzo, Joseph Lastie Jr., Rickie Monie and Charlie Gabriel.

‘That’s It!’ is first original album in 52-year history

It’s been another landmark year for the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.

In July, the band released “That’s It!”, the first album of original material in its 52-year history. A busy schedule of touring and promotional appearances followed.

“That’s It!” took Preservation Hall to “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” “Jimmy Kimmel Live” and NPR’s “World Café.” And on Nov. 16, the band will make its debut at the historic Apollo Theater in New York City.

Taking a break from traveling, Mark Braud and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band are back in town this month. On Thursday, the band performed on its home turf: The beloved hall at 726 St. Peter St.

The band devotes at least 50 percent of its shows to selections from “That’s It!” The new music works well alongside the group’s traditional jazz.

“It’s really fun playing the new material from the record,” said Braud, Preservation Hall Jazz Band leader and trumpeter. “We’ve gotten such positive feedback from the audiences.

“It fits in because we have a very special band sound,” Braud explained. “No matter if we’re playing the traditional songs or if we’re playing original material, we sound like the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.”

Ben Jaffe, sousaphone player and Preservation Hall creative director, and Jim James, leader of the Kentucky alt-country-rock band My Morning Jacket, co-produced “That’s It!” James, a Preservation Hall fan, is among the many guest stars on the band’s 2010 album, “Preservation.”

“The music will speak forever,” James said in release from the band’s record label. “Will people stop listening to Beethoven? Will people stop listening to Bob Dylan? Will people stop listening to the Preservation Hall Jazz Band?”

James contributed much to the direction of “That’s It!”, Braud said.

“It’s so important to have another set of ears,” the third-generation trumpeter explained. “When you’re involved in creating music, there may be something that you don’t hear. But someone else who’s not actually making the music does hear it.”

Braud joined the Preservation Hall Jazz Band in 2008. He’s 40 now and, to the best of his considerable knowledge, the youngest band leader the group has ever had.

Braud followed his uncles, Wendell and the late John Brunious, to the band’s leadership. Growing up in a musical family, he knew the Preservation Hall Jazz Band musicians and performed with them before he became an official member.

“It was just like a natural progression for me to fall right in,” he said. “I was asked to join the band and, of course, it was a great honor.

“I’ve been listening all my life to the music of New Orleans. I knew the style, I knew the repertoire. By the time I got a trumpet, it was just a matter of me learning how to present my voice through an instrument.”

In addition to his at home and on the road gigs with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Braud is a member of Harry Connick Jr.’s big band and leader of the modern jazz-oriented Mark Braud Quintet and tradition-minded New Orleans Jazz Giants.

Unlike many of his New Orleans music peers, he enjoys touring.

“We’re having a good time,” he said. “Of course, you miss home, but this is what we do, what we’ve chosen to do. I mean, I love it. I wouldn’t want to do anything else.”