Like most New Orleans-born-and-bred musicians, Ben Jaffe understands music not as a byproduct of the human experience but as a heart-deep part of that experience itself. Jaffe—tuba player, bassist and current leader/co-composer for the venerable Preservation Hall Jazz Band—comes by it honest, as they say. In 1961, his parents founded the Preservation Hall venue, a performance space especially notable during the Jim Crow era for being one of a handful in New Orleans open to both white and black players. What started as the venue’s de facto house band is now a pillar of the city’s musical history: a live performance, recording and educational outreach project 55 years strong and counting. PHJB’s new album, So It Is, continues the band’s longstanding custom of preserving and contributing new material to traditional New Orleans acoustic music. Jaffe will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our feature on the band.
Jaffe: I love music. I love learning about music. I love sharing music. I love discovering music. I’m still discovering something new (and old) almost everyday. Someone last night hipped me to Them, Van Morrison’s first band. It blew my mind. I love the New York-based label Fania and the Jamaican label Studio One. Life is about listening and discovering, turning other artists onto new and old music. I bonded with Dave Sitek from TV On The Radio over Pharoah Sanders and Ethiopiques; Arcade Fire’s Win Butler over Haiti and dancehall, Carlos Malta and Seu Jorge from Brazil, Tom Waits’ early American music; Jim James turned me on to the Ink Spots and Curtis Mayfield. The list is endless: Dan Auerbach’s New Orleans and bluegrass productions, Sharon Jones’ gospel, Angelique Kidjo’s West African rhythms, Kid Koala, Sweet Emma, Mos Def’s classic hip hop and funk, Solange, Nina Simone, Bilal, Allen Toussaint, Dr. John.