Wednesday, November 15, 2006


Preservation Hall Jazz Band has been awarded the 2006 National Medal of Arts, the nation's highest honor for artistic excellence. Dedicated to preserving New Orleans Jazz, the world-renowned Preservation Hall Jazz Band performs traditional New Orleans music and derives its name from the venerable music venue--The Preservation Hall which is located in the heart of the French Quarter in New Orleans, Louisiana. (They will also be playing a Creole Christmas program at TBPAC on Dec. 14 - ed.)

Founded in 1961 by Alan & Sandra Jaffe, who sought to perpetuate the traditional jazz music of New Orleans, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band has toured the country and the world as emissaries of this unique American art form. "We are honored to be recipients of this prestigious honor." states Ben Jaffe, Creative Director and son of founders Alan and Sandra Jaffe.

Home to such jazz greats as Willie and Percy Humphrey, George Lewis, famed pianist Sweet Emma Barret, Kid Thomas Valentine and many others over its 45 year history, the musical legacy of the Preservation Hall Jazz Bands is being carried on by current band members Carl LeBlanc, Ralph Johnson, Joseph Lastie Jr., Rickie Monie, Frank Demond, John Brunious, Walter Payton, Lucien Barbarin, newcomer Clint Maedgen and Ben Jaffe. "These gentlemen are responsible for perpetuating the traditions that gave birth to the United States of America's gift to the International Arts Community, JAZZ" states Jaffe, continuing "It is these traditions that are in jeopardy. We are committed to rebuilding the New Orleans cultural community brick by brick."

Immediately after Hurricane Katrina, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band embarked on a world tour bringing attention to the critical needs of New Orleans and its musicians. In order to provide immediate assistance to musicians, Ben and his wife Sarah Jaffe founded the New Orleans Musicians Hurricane Relief Fund, The fund has provided grants to musicians and businesses in New Orleans; Jaffe adds "The rebirth of New Orleans is intrinsically tied to the resilience of its musical culture."

The National Medal of Arts, established by Congress in 1984, is awarded by the President to those who have made extraordinary contributions to the creation, growth, and support of the arts in the United States. Each year, the Arts Endowment seeks nominations from individuals and organizations across the country. The National Council on the Arts, the Arts Endowment's Presidentially-appointed and Senate-confirmed advisory body reviews the nominations and provides recommendations to the President, who selects the recipients.

"These individuals and organizations have all made enduring contributions to the artistic life of our nation," said National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Dana Gioia "Whether by translating the masterpieces of Latin American literature or bringing genius to the design of everyday objects or simply preserving the great musical heritage of New Orleans, their work has enriched our national culture."

The 2006 National Medal of Arts Recipients

William Bolcom, classical composer, Ann Arbor, MI

Cyd Charisse, dancer, Los Angeles, CA

Roy R. DeCarava, photographer, Brooklyn, NY

Wilhelmina Holladay, arts patron, Washington, DC

Interlochen Center for the Arts, school of fine arts, Interlochen, MI

Erich Kunzel, conductor, Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, Cincinnati, OH

Preservation Hall Jazz Band, jazz ensemble, New Orleans, LA

Gregory Rabassa, literary translator, Brooklyn, NY

Viktor Schreckengost, industrial designer/sculptor, Cleveland, OH

Dr. Ralph Stanley, bluegrass musician, Coeburn, VA

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