Preservation Hall Jazz Band is the name for numerous groups of Dixieland Jazz and traditional jazz bands at Preservation Hall in New Orleans, Louisiana, and on tours as organized by the Preservation Hall. The purpose of the Hall has been to preserve the heritage of both New Orleans traditional and Dixieland jazz music born in New Orleans and common to the Riverboats plying the Mississippi River, which spread throughout the South until the early 20th century.
The musicians in the groups have varied during the years since the founding of the hall in the early 1960s.
Bands of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band perform at Preservation Hall on 726 St. Peter Street in the French Quarter, and tour around the world for more than 150 days a year.
Hurricane Katrina, however, forced Preservation Hall to close through the fall and winter of 2005. Although the building remained shut until April 2006, the band continued to tour while the Hall was closed.
Music groups performing at Preservation Hall predated the name "Preservation Hall Jazz Band". The late Allan Jaffe, a young tuba player who had taken over running the hall, organized tours for the musicians who often performed there, naming the band after the venue. He often played tuba in the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. His son, Ben Jaffe, a double bass player and tubist, now leads and performs with the band.
The band has been touring the United States for more than twenty-five years. They seek to preserve the distinctive music that evolved in New Orleans and to bring it to contemporary audiences.
Although similar music sometimes is described now as "Dixieland Jazz", there are distinct characteristics of traditional New Orleans jazz that are not shared among performances often bearing the "Dixieland" label. The latter often is considered as commercial exploitation and distortion of a pure tradition and, therefore, a strict differentiation between the two is made by admirers of what they recognize as "New Orleans Jazz". One may find the term used among traditional New Orleans musicians prior to the change in perception.
The band made a brief appearance in the 1965 film The Cincinnati Kid, including a close-up of pianist and vocalist Emma Barrett.
In 2006, the band was awarded the National Medal of Arts. In 2007, the band accepted an invitation to participate in Goin' Home: A Tribute to Fats Domino, contributing their version of "When The Saints Go Marching In", with Theresa Andersson.