Del McCoury Band / Preservation Hall Jazz Band
First Appeared in The Music Box, September 2011, Volume 18, #6
Written by John Metzger
Thu September 29, 2011, 05:30 AM CDT
It is difficult to fathom that anything good could ever have come from the devastation that Hurricane Katrina wrought upon the people of New Orleans. Six years after the tropical storm crashed ashore, severely flooding the lower Ninth Ward, the city is still struggling to recover. Surprisingly, though, the culture of creativity that long has emanated from New Orleans’ core seems to have been largely unaffected. Sure, many musicians were displaced, having lost their homes, instruments, and other assorted belongings to the rising water. However, thanks to television programs like Treme as well as admirers like Elvis Costello, interest in the Crescent City’s rich, musical heritage has never been stronger.
It hasn’t really mattered who has stepped up to the plate to shine a light upon New Orleans. None of the resulting endeavors — from Elvis Costello and Allen Toussaint’s The River in Reverse to Linda Ronstadt and Ann Savoy’s Adieu False Heart — have felt forced. Instead, they have stood as testaments not only to the passion that everyone has brought to their individual projects but also to the breadth and versatility of New Orleans’ roots. The city’s music, it seems, is indomitable, much like New Orleans itself.
The latest, though undoubtedly not the last, effort to pay homage to New Orleans’ history is American Legacies. Inspired by a few, offhand collaborations between the Del McCoury Band and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, the collection mutated into a full-length endeavor, one that begs the question of why it took so long for these two seminal outfits to get together. The Del McCoury Band is legendary among bluegrass afficionados, while the Preservation Hall Jazz Band is a mainstay of traditional New Orleans’ culture. Both groups boast lineups filled with exquisitely skilled musicians. Throughout American Legacies, their stylistic approaches merge into a single glorious celebration of roots music.
At first glance, it appears as if American Legacies will simply skip back and forth between the repertoires of the Del McCoury Band and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. In the process, it seems likely that the outfits will take turns supporting each other as they weave from the Appalachian holler of 50/50 Chance to the joyous revelry of The Band’s in Town. As American Legacies progresses, however, it becomes clearer that the Del McCoury Band and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band collaborated fully upon the project. It isn’t a matter of one group taking the lead, while the other follows along, but rather of both ensembles finding common ground and conversing through the resulting music.
Whether paying homage to Louis Armstrong on A Good Gal, delving into the gospel groove of I’ll Fly Away, or settling into the intoxicated swing of One Has My Name, the Del McCoury Band and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band seamlessly fuse their respective tendencies, planting one foot in the mountains and the other on a bustling corner of Bourbon Street. With its bluegrass-tilted romps and its Dixieland-imbued swells, with its brawny brass and its fleet-fingered fury, American Legacies makes the case that, when all is said and done, genres are meaningless when the music is first-rate.
Of Further Interest...
American Legacies is available from
Barnes & Noble. To order, Click Here!
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2011 The Music Box