Signature Series Showcases New Orleans Legends Preservation Hall and Toussaint

Published on November 2, 2014 by Philip Poole  

Samford University’s Leslie S. Wright Fine Arts Center continues its Signature Series Nov. 10 with “New Orleans Legends: Preservation Hall Jazz Band + Allen Toussaint Oh Yeah! Tour.” Show time is 7:30 p.m.

Tickets range from $18-$30 and can be purchased online or by calling the Samford Arts box office at (205) 726-2853. Box office hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Tickets can also be purchased at the box office, located in Swearingen Hall on the Samford campus.

New Orleans Legends brings two “Big Easy” icons together for the first time on tour.  Each a part of the rich tapestry of New Orleans music on their own, together they’ll offer a night of unforgettable music that will truly celebrate the best of the Crescent City, according to Sean Wright, director of Samford’s Wright Center.

The Preservation Hall Jazz Band derives its name from Preservation Hall, the venerable music venue located in the heart of New Orleans’ French Quarter. It was founded in 1961 by Allan and Sandra Jaffe. The band has traveled worldwide spreading their mission to nurture and perpetuate the art form of New Orleans Jazz. Whether performing at Carnegie Hall or Lincoln Center, for British Royalty or the King of Thailand, the music embodies a joyful, timeless spirit, Wright added. Under the auspices of current director, Ben Jaffe, son of the founders. Preservation Hall continues with a deep reverence and consciousness of its greatest attributes in the modern day as a venue, band and record label.

The PHJB began touring in 1963 and for many years there were several bands successfully touring under the name Preservation Hall. Many of the band's charter members performed with the pioneers who invented jazz in the early 20th century, Wright said.  These founding artists and dozens of others passed on the lessons of their music to a younger generation who now follow in their footsteps, like the current lineup.

Toussaint is a senior member of the fraternity of New Orleans music makers, a renowned songwriter and producer for more than 50 years, Wright said. The list of those who have benefited in one way or another from the Toussaint’s touch is staggering in its historic and stylistic range, stretching from the late 1950s to the present day, with no end in sight. His studio productions have sold millions of discs and downloads. His catalog of songs has generated hits on the pop, R&B, country and dance charts. Many remain on heavy rotation in various radio formats.

An innovator in the early days of rock and rhythm and blues as a performer and record producer, as a litany of rock, R&B and even country stars made their way to his studios in New Orleans Sea-Saint. His ability to write, produce and conjure radio hits from performers in any popular genre – or to simply come up with just the right horn line or song structure – made him an in-demand producer, composer and arranger. He worked with local New Orleans acts as well as such luminaries as Paul McCartney, LaBelle, the Band, Albert King and Little Feat.

For more than 50 years, that innovation has continued.  His songs have been covered by artists as diverse as Boz Scaggs, Lowell George, Bonnie Raitt, Robert Palmer, Allison Krauss and others. His song “Southern Nights” was retooled by Glen Campbell in 1977 and topped both the pop and country charts. After years of staying away from the road, Toussaint has toured the globe in the past decade, reminding audiences why Sir Elton John once called him “a historical piece of rock-and-roll.”

The Signature Series continues Dec. 5 with Christmas with Michael W. Smith and the Alabama Symphony Orchestra. The series is made possible through the support of the National Endowment for the Arts, South Arts and the Alabama State Council on the Arts. Samford University is a partner of Create Birmingham.