On October 17th Preservation Hall held its second annual Legacy Awards at the Three Keys and Ace Hotel. The Preservation Hall Legacy Program honors veteran musicians who continue to serve as cultural ambassadors for New Orleans. The Program provides a critical lifeline to elder musicians with direct financial stipends and ongoing support. This year’s ceremony recognized three local musicians with long relationships to the Hall as Master Practitioners.
Lester Caliste grew up in the 7th Ward of New Orleans where he attended St. Augustine high school and played Trombone in both the concert band and their famous marching band. He was a music major at Xavier in the late 60’s and developed his style among fellow trombonists James Lewis, Louis Nelson, Big Jim Robinson, and Waldren “Frog” Joseph. He joined Harold Dejan’s Olympia Brass Band in 1966 and played Preservation Hall with them for the first time on Mardi Gras 1968. After service in the Navy, he returned to New Orleans and played with several notable bands. In the 70s he did studio work appearing on hits for Patti Labelle and Glen Campbell. He also had a full career for the Postal Service from 1973-2004. In the 80s he played with the Original Crescent City Jazz Band. He continued to record throughout this time and joined many tours with Preservation Hall. Hurricane Katrina had him out of the action for a while but he is back to performing at the Hall.
Örjan “Orange” Kellin , was born in Sweden in 1944. He picked up the clarinet after watching The Benny Goodman Story, found his way to reissues of pre-war jazz, and fell in love with the New Orleans sound. He formed a jazz band with fellow Swede Lars Edegran when he was just 17 and together they released three EPs. He finally traveled to New Orleans in 1966 only planning on staying a few months. He found the musicians so welcoming he never left, even joining the black musicians union so he could play. Within short order he was playing Preservation Hall and had rented an apartment next door.
He founded the New Orleans Ragtime Orchestra with Edegran, the band played the first Newport Jazz Festival giving Kellin an opportunity to meet Louis Armstrong. The group continues to this day. He also co-founded the New Orleans Joymakers which toured extensively to Europe and produced memorable albums in the 70s. He was the musical director for the off-Broadway revue One Mo’ Time. Begining in the 1990s he has made solo tours to Europe and continues to be an ambassador for the music of his adoptive home.
Lars Edegran was born in Sweden in 1944 to a musical family and exposed to American blues and jazz from an early age. He began to play in jazz bands as a teenager and began touring in Europe. After a chance meeting with Delmark Records founder Bob Koester , he was offered a job at Koester’s premiere record store in Chicago. Their he was exposed to blues royalty. In 1965 he hitchhiked to New Orleans arriving the day after Hurricane Betsy and making Preservation Hall his first destination. He was invited to play with the band that very night. He found steady work at Luthjen’s Dance Hall in the Marigny, joined the black musician’s union, and continued to play with jazz veterans at Preservation Hall. He aslo began to work in the sheet music department of the Hogan Jazz Archive.
The early sheet music inspired him to form The New Orleans Ragtime Orchestra for which he would arrange tuba parts where none had existed for use by Allan Jaffee. He became a staple of Bourbon Street clubs in the 70s and did the musical arrangements for the Academy Award winning soundtrack of the 1978 film Pretty Baby. He has continued to perform and tour with Preservation Hall and other groups. He produces GHB Records, the premiere label for re-issues and new releases of New Orleans style jazz.
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