Preservation Hall Jazz Band

The Best of the Early Years, Preservation Hall Hot 4 with Duke Dejan, and Shake That Thang (Preservation Hall Recordings)

Reissues

Preservation Hall Jazz Band

The Best of the Early Years (Preservation Hall Recordings)

Preservation Hall Jazz Band

Preservation Hall Hot 4 With Duke Dejan (Preservation Hall Recordings)

Preservation Hall Jazz Band

Shake That Thing (Preservation Hall Recordings) There's no smoking in Preservation Hall. This rule exists because the New Orleans venue is centuries old and would likely burst into flames. Truth is, the band that performs nightly is already too combustible for the club's tiny square footage. Thus, the Hall now has a record company for a series of albums that highlight 50 years of incendiary nights. On three new releases, The Best of the Early Years, Preservation Hall Hot 4 With Duke Dejan, and Shake That Thing, the Hall's label has culled some of the most life-affirming sounds to ever serenade a late night around the corner from Bourbon Street. All three discs are essentially live, though Shake That Thing is the only one without an audience. Nevertheless, this studio album feels as spontaneous as any blistering Saturday night set. The only release of the three that comes out cold is Hot 4 With Duke Dejan. Featuring a quartet fronted by the Olympia Brass Band's Harold "Duke" Dejan, the disc is a confusing batch of standards that is hampered by either muddy recording or poor song choices. It's easy to hear the shine on classics like "Corrina, Corrina," but most of the time, the efforts feel belabored. The Best of the Early Years is vintage New Orleans jazz, arranging performances from a series of legendary releases. Primarily more obscure traditional jazz standards, this disc does feature an electric performance of the New Orleans anthem "When the Saints Go Marching In," a song only this band can make sound relevant in 2004. Shake That Thing rattles and rolls with a splendid Creole blend of raucous Dixieland stompers like "Little Liza Jane" and the wistful gospel of "Just a Closer Walk With Thee." On the brightest moments of inaugural label releases, the band remembers that this is the essence of jazz: There's a sinner and a saint in us all. (The Preservation Jazz Hall Band plays the Paramount Theatre Saturday, May 17.)

(Best of; Shake That Thing) ****

(Hot 4 w/ Duke Dejan) **

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