Almost everyone loves New Orleans jazz. And everyone who loves New Orleans jazz loves the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.
The venerable seven-piece band has now been around for more than half a century -- though its membership has of course changed -- and it's more popular than ever. The mission of Preservation Hall has always been to promote New Orleans-flavored jazz, but the hall and its band have stayed current by working with contemporary artists from other genres.
Among the acts that PHJB has recorded with are My Morning Jacket, Tom Waits, Merle Haggard, Pete Seeger and the Del McCoury Bluegrass Band.
Early in 2012, the PHJB celebrated its 50th anniversary with a concert at Carnegie Hall. Ben Jaffee, the creative director of Preservation Hall, said, "The anniversary is about the next 50 years."
The band will perform at Sarasota's Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall on Sunday.
The band's latest album, "That's It!," came out in July and it showed another way that PHJB could keep at least one foot in the present. For the first time in its history, the band created an album with nothing but original material. Most of it is written by band members, but such famed songwriters as Paul Williams also contributed.
That doesn't mean the band has turned its back on tradition.
"This is the music we want to play today," Jaffee said. "We'll continue to do the old standards, along with new material that allows us to be creative and relevant."
Details: 7 p.m. Jan. 5, Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, 777 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. Tickets: $25-$40 Information: 941-953-3368, www.vanwezel.org.
-- Marty Clear