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Preservation Hall Jazz Band Gets Animated

Oct 22, 2009
By Lindsey Schneider

Preservation Hall Jazz BandKnown for preserving and advancing the New Orleans jazz sound, Preservation Hall Jazz Band (see FLYP’s feature story on the band) has also been exploring how to make original music videos in keeping with their work. On October 20, they released five small-arrangement performances of traditional jazz and blues standards (available exclusively through iTunes), as well as an animated music video for “St. James Infirmary,” their collaboration with the band The New Orleans Bingo! Show. The classic blues song, reworked by Preservation Hall Jazz Band, was mixed by DJ King Britt, a Philadelphia-based producer of Digable Planets fame.

This is not your usual music video. For their attempt in the genre, Preservation Hall Jazz Band has opted for a fully animated video that mimics the classic style of Max Fleischer (the force behind the Betty Boop shorts of old). Created by Lafayette-based animator James Tancill, the video is a fun romp through New Orleans, past and present, with members from Preservation Hall and The New Orleans Bingo! Show mixing with long-gone New Orleans music legends. Among those who have been turned into cartoon characters are singer Clint Maedgen; Ben Jaffe, creative director of Preservation Hall; King Britt and the late John Brunious, Jr. of Preservation Hall Jazz Band; and long-gone icon Sweet Emma Barrett.

In addition to the mix of characters, the video also travels through familiar New Orleans sites, like Preservation Hall and Jackson Square, and places that are not longer standing, like the amusement park at Pontchartrain Beach (which closed down in 1983).

As Jaffe put it in a press release, “we were looking for a fun way to visually document some of the great icons of New Orleans music and culture. What better way to bridge the past and the present than with a modern cartoon in an instantly recognizable, classic style. And made right here in New Orleans.”

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