Senior Preservation Hall member’s album is “89”, his age

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The senior member of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band of New Orleans has created what is described as his first album as a bandleader, and it’s titled for his age — 89.

Charlie Gabriel’s first professional gig was in 1943, replacing his father with the Eureka Brass Band. As a teenager, living in Detroit, he plays for Lionel Hampton, alongside the young Charles Mingus. Musicians he has performed or toured with include Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Bennet and Aretha Franklin.

“I’ve been playing since I was 11,” Gabriel, who plays clarinet and saxophone on the album, said in a press release. “I’ve never done anything in my life except play music. I was blessed with this gift that God gave me, and I tried to care for it as best I knew how.

The recordings on “Eighty-Nine” grew out of Preservation Hall head Ben Jaffe’s attempts to pull Gabriel out of a depression that had led the older man to stop playing for the first time, after his son’s death. brother and his last surviving brother of COVID-19. on October 27, 2020.

Jaffe regularly had Gabriel come to his home studio to play chess. During one of their matches, according to the press release, Joshua Starkman sat in the corner, playing his guitar.

The next day, Gabriel brought his saxophone.

“I was just inspired to try it out, to play it again. It’s been a long time, and a guitar makes me feel free. I love the sound of a piano, but it takes up a lot of space, it keeps me awake. bit locked up,” he said.

With Gabriel on the album, Starkman on guitar, Jaffe on bass and keyboard, Walter Harris on drums and Djallo Djakate on percussion.

Gabriel is also the singer of three titles, including “I’m Confessin'”.

It’s one of six jazz standards on the album, which also includes two more recent tracks, “The Darker It Gets” and “Yellow Moon.”

Gabriel said older musicians like him have played the standards throughout their careers, but that doesn’t mean endless repetition. “Every time I play one of these tracks, the interpretation is a little different,” he said.

The recordings, made in 2020 and 2021, were released online at the end of February by Sub Pop Records. CDs and vinyl records will be available July 1, the label said.