Detroit's Charlie Gabriel plays Letterman show Tuesday

Local jazz fans may have noticed that Charlie Gabriel hasn’t been seen much on the local scene these last couple of years.

There’s a reason: Charlie, whose family roots go back to generations of Crescent City music makers, was recruited for one of the reed chairs in the esteemed Preservation Hall Jazz Band, headquartered at the like-named institution in the French Quarter. You can check out Charlie with the band on recent Preservation Hall discs. If you’re curious and coming from a more mainstream background, a good starting point would be last year’s Preservation on their Preservation Hall label, featuring a cast of guest vocalists from Tom Waits to Angelique Kidjo to — thanks to overdubbing — Louis Armstrong.  American Legacies, the most recent disc, also on the Preservation Hall label, pairs the PHJB with the Del McCoury Band.

With the band Gabriel has also done a Playboy fashion shoot (August 2010 issue, which we only bought for the jazz coverage and the Cornel West interview)

 and on Wednesday, July 20, Tuesday, July 19, the band and McCoury get a spot on The Late Show with David Letterman. Wonder if they’ll get to jazz up the Top 10 delivery?

A recent story in the New Orleans Times-Picayune puts the McCoury team-up and other recent moves in the context of an effort by creative director (and tubaist) Ben Jaffe to garner more mainstream recognition for the band, which has been touring in one form or another for a quarter century. The band has also played the Grand Ole Opry and Bonnaroo, the later including sitting in with My Morning Jacket, with whom they've played elsewhere. Furthermore, according to the article, the band's work with My Morning Jacket is the subject of a new documentary called Louisiana Fairytale.

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