National Medal of Arts

The Preservation Hall Jazz Band derives its name from Preservation Hall, the venerable music venue located in the heart of New Orleans' French Quarter, founded in 1961 by Allan and Sandra Jaffe. The band has traveled worldwide spreading its 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 band conveys a joyful, timeless spirit. Under the auspices of current director, Ben Jaffe, the son of founders Allan and Sandra, Preservation Hall continues with a deep reverence and consciousness of its impressive history as a venue, band, and record label.

The building that houses Preservation Hall has housed many businesses over the years including a tavern during the war of 1812, a photo studio, and an art gallery. It was during the years of the art gallery that then owner, Larry Bornstein, began holding informal jam sessions for his close friends.

Out of these sessions grew the concept of Preservation Hall. The intimate venue has a weathered exterior untouched over its history. To this day, Preservation Hall has no drinks, air conditioning, or other typical accoutrements, strictly welcoming people of all ages interested in having one of the last pure music experiences left on the earth.

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 twentieth century including Buddy Bolden, Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong, and Bunk Johnson. Band leaders over the band's history include the brothers Willie and Percy Humphrey, husband and wife Billie and De De Pierce, and famed pianist Sweet Emma Barrett. These founding artists and dozens of others passed on the lessons of their music to a younger generation who now follow in their footsteps including current band leader and trumpeter John Brunious.