Appalachian State University’s performing arts series, “The Schaefer Center Presents…” kicks off its 2019-20 season with a high-energy concert by the legendary Preservation Hall Jazz Band (PHJB) on Friday, Sept. 27 at 8pm at the Schaefer Center for the Performing Arts. The show is being held in conjunction with ASU’s annual Family Weekend, which offers three days of an array of special events for students and their families. Tickets to Preservation Hall Jazz Band go on sale August 19th at 9am at the Schaefer Center Box Office or online at theschaefercenter.org. For more information, visit theschaefercenter.org or call 828-262-4046.
The performance series, presented by ASU’s Office of Arts and Cultural Programs, offers students, faculty, staff and the community a diverse array of music, theatre and dance events. The upcoming season also includes Taj Express (Nov. 8), A.I.M. (Feb. 5), Trinity Irish Dance (Feb. 22) and L.A. TheatreWorks: “Seven” (March 24). Additional artists and on sale ticket dates for the full season will be announced soon!
About Preservation Hall Jazz Band
Preservation Hall Jazz Band has held the torch of New Orleans music aloft for more than 50 years, all the while carrying it enthusiastically forward as a reminder that the history the septet was founded to preserve is a vibrantly living history. Rolling Stone magazine calls the dynamic group “the past and promise of America music.”
“When we play music, the barometer for us as a band is whether the locals are reacting,” says bandleader/composer/bassist Ben Jaffe. “In New Orleans we play music for dances and parades, funerals and church. It’s important to us to make music people connect to, that people dance to, that people really feel, emotionally and physically. That’s the tradition we grew up with, that’s what we know.”
About So It Is
The septet’s second release of all new original music, So It Is, finds the classic PHJB sound invigorated by a number of fresh influences, not least among them the band’s 2015 life-changing trip to Cuba. A visit to the island, so integral to the evolution of jazz and New Orleans culture in general, had long been in the works when President Obama’s diplomatic opening suddenly allowed for a more extensive journey than had originally seemed possible.
“When the restrictions were lifted,” says Jaffe, “It was no longer just about going down there and playing a concert. We were able to explore a bit more, which profoundly impacted the band not just musically but personally. In Cuba, all of a sudden we were face to face with our musical counterparts. There’s been a connection between Cuba and New Orleans since day one – we’re family. A gigantic light bulb went off and we realized that New Orleans music is not just a thing by itself; it’s part of something much bigger. It was almost like having a religious epiphany.”
Producer David Sitek, a founder of art rock innovators TV on the Radio who has helmed projects by Kelis, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Santigold, among others, offered both a keen modern perspective and a profound respect for the band’s storied history. Upon arriving in New Orleans to meet with the band, Sitek recalls he and Jaffe accidentally stumbling into one of the city’s famed second-line parades. “I was struck by the visceral energy of the live music all around, this spontaneous joy, everything so immediate,” he says. “I knew I had to make sure that feeling came out of the studio. It needed to be alive. It needed to sound dangerous.”
The music on So It Is, penned largely by Jaffe and 84-year-old saxophonist Charlie Gabriel in collaboration with the entire PHJB, stirs together that variety of influences like classic New Orleans cuisine. Longtime members Jaffe, Gabriel, Clint Maedgen and Ronell Johnson have been joined over the past18 months by Walter Harris, Branden Lewis and Kyle Roussel, and the new blood has hastened the journey into new musical territory. The album’s seven new pieces of buoyant, window-rattling funk find common ancestry with the Afro-Cuban sounds that the band heard in the streets of Havana (witness the NOLA-meets-Cuba bounce of “La Malanga”), Fela Kuti’s Nigerian funk and the entrancing melodies of Ethiopian jazz (most evident on the sinuous “Innocence”), the passion of envelope-pushing ‘60s jazz and soul pioneers, and the intense grooves of their modern Coachella counterparts – then filters them all through a Crescent City lens to emerge with something that compels the listener to move.
Tickets are $15 for students and $30 for adults. To purchase tickets, call or visit the Schaefer Center for the Performing Arts Box Office at 800-841-2787, 828-262-4046 or visit: http://theschaefercenter.org.
About “The Schaefer Center Presents…”
“The Schaefer Center Presents…” is a series offering campus and community audiences a diverse array of music, dance and theatre programming designed to enrich the cultural landscape of the Appalachian State University campus and surrounding area. By creating memorable performance experiences and related educational and outreach activities, the series promotes the power and excitement of the live performance experience; provides a “window on the world” through the artistry of nationally and internationally renowned artists; and showcases some of the finest artists of our nation and our region. Musical events range from symphony orchestra and chamber music performances to jazz, folk, traditional, international, and popular artists. Theatre productions run the gamut from serious drama to musical comedy. Dance performances offer an equally wide array of styles, from ballet to modern dance to international companies representing cultural traditions from around the world. For more information, visit http://theschaefercenter.org.
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