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Although the tremendous loss of human life is by far the most tragic aspect of the Hurricane Katrina tragedy, jazz lovers can't help but also be concerned about the potential effects of the storm on some of New Orleans' music landmarks.
Details about the situations with these historic sites in most parts remain unclear, but it seems that the city's famed French Quarter narrowly escaped the worst of the damage.
Perhaps New Orleans' most revered jazz location, Preservation Hall, likewise appears to be largely intact. The hall, opened at 726 St. Peter St. in 1961, is known globally as a "living museum of traditional New Orleans jazz and as the home of the ongoing, world-touring Preservation Hall Jazz Band.
It's hard to give a precise estimate on how the hall weathered the storm, since we have not seen it in person yet ourselves, said Preservation Hall's Howard Lambert. "However, we are very positive on what it looks like the situation may be. We believe the hall is still standing and only received 'minor' damages and flooding.
In the confusion and ensuing chaos left in Katrina's wake, many of the hall's musicians, several of whom are elderly players who lived in the city's hardest-hit areas, remained unaccounted for. But, thankfully, at least some good news on the plights of these musicians has been materializing. "Each day is better, as we are able to hear through the grapevine as to where the musicians made it to, said Lambert, adding, "Of course this may take some time to gather where everyone is, as the communication waves have been pretty much unavailable. Most of the city has been without power since the storm hit on Aug. 29.
The hall has set up a relief fund to assist New Orleans musicians affected by the disaster.
Preservation Hall's Web site stated that the institution was closed indefinitely due to the damage. But Lambert remained optimistic about the hall's future.
"It will take some time, but we will make it through this, he said. "We remain encouraged to once again get the hall open and to keep touring the world as we have been doing for the past 40 years.
To contribute to the New Orleans Musicians Hurricane Relief Fund, send donations to:
New Orleans Musicians Hurricane Relief Fund P.O. Box 9081 Miramar Beach, FL 32550
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.