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: Recently I’ve gotten to know Luis Cruz Azaceta, a Cuban-born visual artist who lives in New Orleans. Luis left Cuba in his teens during the revolution. He studied art in New York, became part of the New York scene and eventually moved to New Orleans. Luis showed me some of his new work when I visited his studio, and they were so powerful that I asked if we could use one of the paintings for our new album cover. Artists are a family. We are our own ecosystem. We inspire one another. We observe and comment. We are as necessary as air, food and love.