Sandra Jaffe, Who Helped Preserve Jazz at the Preservation Hall, Dies


In 1961, Sandra and Allan Jaffe stopped in New Orleans on their way back to Philadelphia from a long honeymoon in Mexico. They heard the music playing around them in the French Quarter, and St. They entered an art gallery on Peter Street, where a combo was playing traditional jazz.

The Jaffes, who were then in their 20s, were changed by what they heard. They came back a few days later to hear the combo again. Larry Borenstein, owner of the gallery, said he was moving his business next door and offered to rent the double humble space (31 x 20 feet) for $400 a month.

“We didn’t even think twice about it,” Jaffe told Harcum College’s alumni magazine, from which he graduated in 2011. “We said, ‘Of course,’ and that was the beginning of Preservation Hall. We never left New Orleans.”

Hall of Protection It has been celebrating jazz for 60 years in a city considered its birthplace – no alcohol served, no air conditioning, and sitting in up to six rows in close to 50 seats. He challenged discrimination laws in the early 1960s. survived Mr. Jaffe’s death It survived Hurricane Katrina in 1987. The coronavirus pandemic shut it down, but it triumphantly reopened in June.

And some fed musicians who played with Louis Armstrong (like the guitarist). Johnny Saint Cyr) and even (like bassist Pope John Joseph) with the cornetist Friend Bolden, said by many jazz historians that he was the first important practitioner of music. Many were largely forgotten amid the growing dominance of rock ‘n’ roll and other more modern forms of music.

“There’s no doubt that Preservation Hall has saved New Orleans jazz” George Weinimpresario, executive producer of the Newport Jazz Festival and the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival told Vanity Fair in 2011. “When there was an institution in New Orleans, everyone who landed there went to the hall. They paid a dollar to listen to people like George Lewis or Sweet Emma Barrett and made them national figures.”

Ms. Jaffe died Monday at a hospital in New Orleans. He was 83 years old.

Ben, the son of Preservation Hall’s creative director, has confirmed the death.

The Jaffes played different roles in the Hall of Protection. Playing the helicon, a brass instrument, Allan Jaffe connected with the musicians and sent them on the road as the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. Sharing managerial duties with her husband, Ms. Jaffe would often stand at the front door of the salon, basket in her lap, collecting money from customers.

“This is how he was remembered by many: as the first person to interact with people,” Ben Jaffe said in an interview. “He was de facto bouncer and security at the same time; it would have to step in when people behaved inappropriately or adopted racist language. My mother would bite first, then assess the situation.”

The Preservation Hall was integrated at a time when there were Jim Crow laws outlawing mixing of races. Ms. Jaffe was once arrested there for violating the integration ban with Kid Thomas Valentine’s group.

“The judge struck his gavel and said, ‘We don’t like mixing our coffee and cream in New Orleans,'” said Ben Jaffe, remembering what his family had told him. “He laughed and said, ‘This is so funny – the most popular thing in New Orleans is café au lait.”

Sandra Smolen was born on March 10, 1938 in Philadelphia. His parents were Jewish immigrants from Ukraine. His father, Jacob, worked various jobs, including operating a gas station and restroom; his mother, Lena (Tiger) Smolen, was a housewife.

Sandra studied journalism and public relations at Harcum, Bryn Mawr., PA and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 1958. She worked for an advertising agency for two years and married her husband on Christmas Day 1960. After their honeymoon in Mexico, the two went together to New Orleans, where one of their fraternity brothers lived; Mr. Jaffe had known the city during his military service.

After their first musical encounter at the art gallery, the Jaffes decided to stay for three more days until the combo that fascinated them reappeared.

“Our parents were always waiting for us in Philadelphia,” he told Harcum magazine, “but we had to stay a little longer.”

After signing a rental deal for the gallery, the Jaffes joined with other jam session fans to form the New Orleans Traditional Jazz Preservation Association to book musicians; a few months later the couple opened the salon. For the first year or so, they found jobs in New Orleans, keeping Mrs. Jaffe in a typesetting job and Mr. Jaffe in a department store.

At first they did not charge entrance fee. Instead, customers tossed money into a basket that Ms. Jaffe had been running around; Anyone who didn’t want to contribute would shake him off. They eventually started charging $1 (today, tickets cost between $25 and $50).

The work was prompted by a two-and-a-half-minute euphoric piece about the Preservation Hall – featuring Mr. Jaffe but not Ms. Jaffe. In NBC’s “Huntley-Brinkley Report.

Mr. Jaffe began sending musicians to tour in 1963, and various versions of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band have been playing and recording around the world ever since. Band members included pianists Sweet Emma Barrett, brothers Willie and Percy Humphrey (who played clarinet and trumpet), and husband and wife Billie and De Pierce (who played the piano and sang, played the trumpet and cornet). Ben Jaffe is playing the sousaphone right now in the group.

“I’ve toured the band for many years,” Resa Lambert, one of Ms. Jaffe’s sisters who worked at Salon for many years, said in an interview. “I was a traveling companion. For seven men. it was great.”

In addition to his son Ben and his sister, he has another son, Russell, from Mrs. Jaffe; four grandchildren; and another sister, Brenda Epstein.

Preservation Hall Jazz Band, National Medal of Arts The band was quoted for “showcasing the unbreakable spirit of New Orleans and sharing the joy of New Orleans jazz with us all.”

Ms. Jaffe, who accepted the award along with her son Ben, was at the Salon until recently, although she no longer has a role.

“He used to call every day asking questions about ticket sales and tours,” said Ben Jaffe. “He always felt busy and was always engaged, even when he wasn’t physically there.” Until recently, he said he would take a broom and sweep the pavement ahead.


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