Preservation Hall is renowned worldwide for its music and spirit. In their new book about the Hall, photographer Shannon Brinkman and interviewer Eve Abrams capture that spirit in both beautiful shots and heartfelt comments from the musicians who populate it. The photographs focus on the musicians, the audience, and the setting, and Brinkman captures it all with a sense of humanity. Previously, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band has been presented with its black and white uniforms in stately, dignified portraits. This book looks like the way the music sounds today in all its reach; there are expressions of joy as well as the ambiguous stares of trumpeter John Brunious and drummer Joe Lastie, the mysterious wisdom in bassist Walter Payton’s portrait, and the quiet release of Greg Stafford looking at the ceiling.
Behind it all is the venerable architecture of the Hall itself, against which most of the photographs are set. Preservation Hall is a character in this book with its mottled colors, stained walls, and clouded windows. Eve Abrams’ interviews sensitively get the musicians to reveal the appeal of the Hall and the music without sacrificing either’s mystique. It is a delicate task and she does it very well, as does Brinkman behind the camera.