|All Sources > Manitou Messenger (DA-MM) > The Manitou Messenger (1916-2014) > 1992 > No. 3, Vol. 106|
Artist Series introduces traditional style of New Orleans improvisational jazz
Author: Jennifer Hosch
Straight from New Orleans' French Quarter to Northfield, one of the three Preservation Hall Jazz Bands will be entertaining audiences with the vitality and charm of original jazz music on Thursday, October 15.
Many of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band members have been involved with the art of jazz for many, many years. These original musicians, along with those newer to jazz, have combined to, make up the three Preservation Hall Jazz Bands. The Wendell Brunious Band, with an average age of 58, is the youngest of the three bands. Members of the band include 38 year old director Wendell Brunious, 37 year old pianist John Royan, 52 year old banjo player Neil Unterseher, drummer Robert French, 58 year old clarinetist Dave Grillier, 78 year old bassist Frank Fields and 85 year old trombonist Woritha Thomas.
Recently, the Wendell Brunious Band performed in Santa Barbara, California. A reviewer for the Santa Barbara News-Press described banjo player/singer Unterseher as "first rate", drummer French, he said, is "outstanding" and called trombonist Thomas a "pixie with a happy glint in his eye."
The Preservation Hall tradition of jazz began around the turn of the century when dock workers came together at the end of the day to improvise together. Their music could be heard on the streets, in saloons and on river boats.
Preservation Hall itself was founded in 1961 by a group of jazz lovers. Originally a small dingy music hall with rotting floorboards and wooden benches, the hall today attracts musicians and jazz lovers from throughout the world.
Members of the Preservation Hall Jazz Bands perform New Orleans jazz as it was traditionally played. Their style mixes together marches, blues, spirituals and ragtime. A great variety of instruments are used in Preservation Hall jazz, including trumpet, clarinet, trombone, banjo, piano, string bass and percussion.
Preservation Jazz is characterized by its improvisational style. Because of this unique characteristic, each concert is wholly original. The Preservation Hall concert program notes: "There can be no printed listing of the numbers to be played in tonight's concert." In fact, in many cases, the members themselves do not know ahead of time what they will be performing. The often base their decisions on the feel of the audience.
The Preservation Hall Jazz Bands have been featured in such publications as the New York Times, Time magazine, The Atlanta Constitution and have performed on numerous television shows.
The Wendell Brunious Band, as part of the St. Olaf Artist Series, will perform in Skoglund Auditorium on October 15 at 8 p.m. Tickets for the event are free for students with ID, $6 for the public. Tickets can be reserved by calling 646-3040 or picked up at the St. Olaf Center Administrative Office.
by Jennifer Hosch Lifestyle/Arts Editor