From The Desk Of Preservation Hall Jazz Band: Ned Sublette

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 all week. Read our feature on the band.

Jaffe: Ned Sublette is the foremost American scholar on Cuban music and is New Orleans’ connection to the Caribbean. He helped connect us with many amazing people during our trip to Cuba. He is a relentless advocate for retelling American history to include how African and Caribbean cultures made us what we are today. My life literally changed after reading his book The World That Made New Orleans. He also wrote the definitive history of Cuban music. In his latest book, The American Slave Coast, he outlines the role of Virginia’s planter class who bred slaves and exported them down to the Deep South. This is a heavy topic but an essential one for understanding and coming to terms with our nation’s true backstory.