Happy 80th Birthday To The Late Great Allan Jaffe
When Allan Jaffe moved to New Orleans in 1961, he and his wife Sandra discovered a well kept secret.
As a tuba player in the military, Allan was no stranger to jazz. During his honeymoon to New Orleans, the two newlyweds discovered 726 St. Peter St. The art gallery, owned by Larry Borenstein, would host impromptu jam sessions at night for local musicians to play traditional jazz. This made the gallery one of the last places in town that presented this important and uniquely American art forms, keeping the tradition alive. Larry and Allan became friends and business partners, eventually turning the art gallery into the jazz hall known as Preservation Hall.
“What we’re trying to do here is just present the music the way the men want to play it….People come to hear just the music.,” proclaims Allan on The Brinkley News Hour (1961).
Allan began playing with Harold Dejan’s Olympia Brass Band and the Hall’s resident band the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. Under his guidance, the Hall began to flourish and the Hall Band began touring, reminding the world that traditional jazz was still alive and well.
While preserving the legacy of traditional New Orleans jazz, Allan helped to bring a multitude of musicians back into the limelight that they deserved, including, but nowhere near limited to; Sweet Emma Barrett, Percy and Willie Humphrey, Billie and De De Pierce, Kid Thomas Valentine, George Lewis, Jim Robinson and Cie Frazier.
“We didn’t come to New Orleans to start a business, or have Preservation Hall, or save the music,” Sandra said. “We just came to hear it.”
Allan Jaffe left a legacy when he died in 1987. From the over 25 years he worked and played in New Orleans, Allan created the foundation that Preservation Hall still stands upon; preserving, protecting, and perpetuating traditional New Orleans jazz. Fast forward almost three decades, Preservation Hall, now in its 55th year of operation, has been handed over to Ben Jaffe, Allan’s son.
“I don’t think [Allan] Jaffe imagined the longevity that the hall had,” Bob Greene, the late jazz pianist and friend of Allan Jaffe said. “I think Jaffe felt that when it’s over, it’s over. I don’t think he envisioned a renaissance.”
Ben Jaffe says, "My dad fell in love with New Orleans music when he was probably a teenager. There was this New Orleans Jazz renaissance that was happening, and my father was coming of age that post-World War II generation, and fell in love with all of the New Orleans jazz musicians."