Jazz Fest preview:‘It Ain’t My Fault!’ Preservation Hall Jazz Band to kick off Syracuse Jazz Fest July 4


The pride of New Orleans, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, will kick out the jams at the 31st annual M&T Syracuse Jazz Festival at 8 p.m. Thursday, July 4, at Jamesville Beach Park. Admission is free, but a parking fee will be charged; syracusejazzfest.com.

The Preservation Hall Jazz Band carries the torch for traditional jazz – that devilishly delightful mix of blues, spirituals and brass band music – which developed a century ago in the City That Care Forgot. But the band’s new artistic director, tuba player Ben Jaffe, strives to adapt the old tunes to new times.

One of the ways the PHJB keeps the music vibrant is with a variety of contemporary collaborations. Earlier this year, for instance, Rounder Records released the single, “It Ain’t My Fault,” a PHJB performance with vocalist Yasiin Bey (also known as Mos Def), filmmaker Tim Robbins, rocker Lenny Kravitz and Trombone Shorty, to benefit oil-spill relief efforts on the Gulf Coast.

“It Ain’t My Fault” was originally written by Smokey Johnson and Wardell Quezerque in 1964 and performed by Harold Dejean’s Olympia Brass Band. The new PHJB version takes the old street beat and kicks it up with a heavy helping of hip-hop care of Yasiin Bey who vocalizes the defiant lyrics.

On another end of the musical spectrum, the PHJB collaborated with the Del McCoury Band on a disc called American Legacies,showcasing a rare blend of bluegrass and jazz on tracks such as “Sugar Blues,” “I’ll Fly Away” and “Milneburg Joys.”

Also in 2011, filmmaker Danny Clinch produced a documentary featuring teamwork between the PHJB and the Louisville rock band My Morning Jacket, titled Livefrom Preservation Hall: A Louisiana Fairytale.

Based for the past half-century at Preservation Hall, 726 St. Peter St., in the French Quarter, the band now includes trumpeter Mark Braud, clarinetist Charlie Gabriel, tuba player and creative director Ben Jaffe, tuba player Ronell Johnson and drummer Joseph Lastie Jr., trombonist Freddie Lonzo, tenor saxophonist Clint Maedgen and pianist Rickie Monie.

Malfitano is impressed by the octet’s recent genre-bending activities. “I recently saw them at a very cool fifth-floor speakeasy located in a lower west side hotel in New York City,” said the Jazz Fest founder, “and they’ve really rejuvenated and reinvented themselves.”

On July 4 at Jazz Fest, the PHJB will be followed at 9 p.m. by a Price Chopper fireworks display and then by the Doobie Brothers at about 9:30 p.m.

The festival will open at 4 p.m. that day with a Verizon Main Stage set by the Syracuse Parks & Recreation Stan Colella All-Star Band conducted by Joe Carello. Vibrant Vermont vocalist Kat Wright & The Indomitable Soul Band perform at 6:30 p.m., just before the PHJB.

The festival’s artistic director, Frank Malfitano, said music will continue Friday and Saturday, July 5 and 6 with performances by the Yellowjackets, the GrandMothers of Invention, the Brubeck Brothers Quartet, saxophonist Ronnie Laws and singer Taylor Dane.

The Preservation Hall Jazz Band recently received the NAACP 2013 Image Award for its historic release,The Preservation Hall Jazz Band 50th Anniversary Collection. The four-disc set showcases 58 tunes such as “Louisiana Fairytale,” “Bourbon Street Parade,” “Oh, Didn’t He Ramble,” “St. James Infirmary” and “Le Petit Fleur.”

Ben Jaffe writes in the liner notes to this collection:

“I get great pleasure out of a song that has been interpreted, reinterpreted and performed for years while remaining as fresh as the day it was born…That’s what music does, it stretches time, it overlaps traditions, it challenges history…[And as this collection demonstrates], New Orleans Music remains just as meaningful today, vital and full of life. It can be happy and joyous; it can be sad and mournful. It has no language barrier, and it delivers a universal message that we, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, carry with us wherever we travel.”

31st Annual M&T Syracuse Jazz Fest
at Jamesville Beach Park

Price Chopper Day:
Thursday, July 4th
2 to 11:30 p.m.

2 pm gates open,
Paradise Food Court, Constellation Wine Court, Crafts Village, Clinics

2 to 3 pm: Clinic, Workshop, Meet the Artist Session
Overlook Shelter @ Jamesville Beach Waterfront
Clinician: Saxophonist Bob Mintzer (Yellowjackets, Bob Mintzer Big Band)

Verizon Main Stage Schedule
(all performance times are subject to change)

4 to 4:30 pm: student performance
Syracuse Parks & Recreation Stan Colella All-Star Band
under the direction of Joe Carello

5 to 6 pm:
West Coast Cool w/ Cheryl Bentyne and
Mark Winkler & The Rick Montalbano Trio

Sponsored by the Central NY Community Foundation

6:30 to 7:30 pm
Kat Wright & The Indomitable Soul Band
Sponsored by C&S Companies

8 to 9 pm
Preservation Hall Jazz Band
Sponsored by Eastern Security Systems

9 to 9:30 pm
Price Chopper Fireworks Display!
Sponsored by Price Chopper Supermarkets

9:30 pm
The Doobie Brothers
Sponsored by M&T Bank and Onondaga County Parks

Verizon Day
Friday, July 5th

1 pm gates open,
Paradise Food Court, Constellation Wine Court, Crafts Village, Clinics

1 to 2 pm: meet the artist session
Overlook Shelter @ Jamesville Beach Waterfront
Clinician: Vocalist Napoleon Murphy Brock
(Mothers of Invention, Zappa on Zappa)

2 to 3 pm: meet the artist session
Overlook Shelter @ Jamesville Beach Waterfront
Clinician: Keyboardist Don Preston (Mothers of Invention,
John Lennon, Nat “King” Cole)

Verizon Main Stage Schedule
(all performance times are subject to change)

3 to 3:30 pm: student performance
Paul V. Moore HS Vocal Jazz Ensemble
under the direction of Dennis Goettel

4 to 4:30 pm: student performance
Fayetteville-Manlius HS Jazz Ensemble
under the direction of John Jeanneret and Rebecca Bizup

5 to 6 pm
Giacomo Gates
Sponsored by the Central NY Community Foundation

6:30 to 7:30 pm
Sophistafunk

8 to 9 pm
The Yellowjackets
w/ Russell Ferrante Bob Mintzer, Will Kennedy & Felix Pastorius
Sponsored by WAER 88.3

9:30 pm
The GrandMothers of Invention
20th Anniversary Frank Zappa Memorial Barbecue
w/ Original Mothers Don Preston, Tom Fowler and Napoleon Murphy Brock.

National Grid Day
Saturday, July 6th

1 pm gates open,
Paradise Food Court, Constellation Wine Court, Crafts Village, Clinics

1 to 2 pm: meet the artist session
Overlook Shelter @ Jamesville Beach Waterfront
Clinician: Keyboardist Chuck Lamb (Brubeck Brothers Quartet)

2 to 3 pm: meet the artist session
Overlook Shelter @ Jamesville Beach Waterfront
Clinician: GuitaristMike DeMicco (Brubeck Brothers, Mose Allison)

Verizon Main Stage Schedule
(All performance times are subject to change)

3 to 3:30 pm: student performance
Liverpool HS Stage Band under the direction of Stephen Salem

4 to 4:30 pm: student performance
Oswego HS Jazz Ensemble under the direction of Stephen Defren

5 to 6 pm
Five to Life
Gospel a cappella

6:30 to 7:30 pm
The Brubeck Brothers Quartet: Tribute To Dave Brubeck
w/ Dan Brubeck, Chris Brubeck, Chuck Lamb & Mike DeMicco
Sponsored by The Society for New Music

8 to 9 pm
Ronnie Laws
Sponsored by POWER 620

9:30 pm
Taylor Dayne
Sponsored by Y94