The story of the Jaffe family in New Orleans goes way back.

Allan and Sandra Jaffe came to the city from Philadelphia in 1961. They came in contact with a group of artists that had taken over a space in the French Quarter that they were using as a gallery and studio where they held informal, underground jam sessions with African-American jazz pioneers.

“At that time, there weren’t that many opportunities for these musicians to perform in public,” explains their son, Ben Jaffe. “This was more than just a musical experiment. This was a social experiment as well.”

So, they ended up staying in New Orleans and took over as managers of Preservation Hall. Decades later, the venue, house band, record label and non-profit organization remain a historic part of the New Orleans music scene. And it also remains in the family, with Ben Jaffe at the helm.

Ahead of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band’s show at Toronto’s Roy Thomson Hall, Ben Jaffe joined us over the phone to talk more about his family’s legacy in New Orleans, what music really means to the city, and what it was like to work with Tom Waits.

Scroll to the bottom to listen to the full audio of the interview.