The South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center (SMPAC) opens its 7th Performing Arts Series – the first programmed by Director Chad Piechocki –with Preservation Hall Jazz Band (PHJB), “the past and promise of American music” according to Rolling Stone Magazine. “Jazz music is a basic thread of American culture and should be celebrated as enthusiastically as is our independence,” Piechocki states.
The SMPAC selected Preservation Hall Jazz Band because New Orleans is the birthplace of jazz and PHJB preserves the traditional New Orleans sound. “It’s a great way to kick off our season and celebrate an authentic American art form,” continues Piechocki.
Consequently, what comes with a group this distinguished is a high price tag, especially for an organization the size of the SMPAC. The SMPAC will spend 25% of its programming budget on this single performance, which is one of nine shows in the 2011-12 Series. “We’re taking the risk because we project a near sold-out house. We positioned it at the front of the season in order to attract new fans of the SMPAC. We have an eclectic year ahead and think that PHJB is a great launch for the other excellent programs to come!”
In addition to the evening performance, Preservation Hall Jazz Band will present a New Orleans’ Jazz Workshop for area students on Monday, September 26, at 10 am. PHJB’s creative director and tuba player, Ben Jaffe, will engage students with a multi-media presentation on the history of New Orleans’ rich musical and cultural heritage, including a live performance featuring Jaffe and members of PHJB.
For 50 years Preservation Hall Jazz Band has been traveling the globe, bringing the joy of traditional New Orleans Jazz to music fans around the world. Whether performing at prestigious centers like Symphony Hall in Boston, contemporary music festivals like Austin City Limits, or private engagements for Presidents and Kings, Preservation Hall Jazz Band of New Orleans never fails to bring their audiences dancing into the aisles. Tickets are $25-$35 and may be purchased by calling the SMPAC Box Office at 414-766-5049 or online at www.southmilwaukeepac.org. Cost for the workshop is $5 per student.
Founded in 1961 by newlyweds Allan and Sandra Jaffe, it has been the ongoing mission of Preservation Hall to nurture and promote traditional New Orleans Jazz as a relevant and vital indigenous American musical format. Boasting contemporaries and band-mates of such early jazz pioneers as Buddy Bolden, Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong and Bunk Johnson, early incarnations of Preservation Hall Jazz Band made familiar names of living legends like brothers Willie and Percy Humphrey, husband and wife Billie and De De Pierce, famed pianist Sweet Emma Barrett, and legendary clarinet virtuoso George Lewis. Today’s lineup is no less impressive. Under the guidance of Creative Director Ben Jaffe (youngest son to founders Allan and Sandra), led by Mark Braud (nephew of former PHJB leaders Wendell and John Brunious) and featuring such amazing players as fourth-generation New Orleans musician Charlie Gabriel on clarinet, the latest incarnation of this American Legacy carries forward its founding mission with a practiced ease.
With the release of their latest CD, New Orleans Preservation, Vol. 1, Preservation Hall Jazz Band has insured that traditional New Orleans Jazz will continue to play a vital role in the American musical landscape. Recent collaborations have seen PHJB recording and performing with the likes of legendary bluegrass artist Del McCoury, gospel superstars the Blind Boys of Alabama and famed lead singer for My Morning Jacket, Jim James. Whether lending their talents to orchestral presentations or providing the score for productions like the avant-garde dance company the Trey McIntyre Project, PHJB has proven time and again that the strains of traditional New Orleans Jazz can provide an instantly recognizable and crowd-pleasing tableau to any performance setting.
The South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center (SMPAC) provides the greater community with a creative, innovative and diverse exploration of the performing arts. Through the many opportunities offered, the SMPAC is bringing art to life on stage and to the lives of the people in the South Shore and surrounding communities. Located on the South Milwaukee 6-12 campus, the SMPAC serves as a creative outlet for the greater community, as well as the students of South Milwaukee.
Along with the nine-show Performing Arts Series, the SMPAC opens its doors to other presenters to bring such acts as Cantare Chorale, Tommy Emmanuel, John Hiatt, Ian Hunter, Joe Lovano and Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. They also provide a home to the School District of South Milwaukee events as well as Grant Park Players, the local community theatre.
The South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center is located inside the South Milwaukee High School at 901 15th Avenue, South Milwaukee, WI between College and Rawson Avenues. It is easily accessible from I-94 and 794. Free parking is located in the northwest parking lot. Patrons should enter door #9. For tickets or directions, call 414-766-5049. For more information about the South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center, visit their website at www.southmilwaukeepac.org.
This performance is supported in part by a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts.
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