Treme Recap: Just One Episode and Already More Jazz Than That Whole Ken Burns Documentary!


Sign in to view read count
You hear Treme, David Simon's new television series, before you see it. Over black, with title cards that read “New Orleans, Three Months Later," a trumpet sounds the staccato clarion call that traditionally convenes the brass bands and second-liners and announces the beginning of the street parade--Puh-PAH puh-PAH.  With those four notes, Simon makes two things clear: 1) this is going to be a show about music, and 2) he's done his research.

Instead of portraying a city, as they did with Baltimore in The Wire, through its interconnected institutions--police, gangs, schools, politics--Simon and his team focus on New Orleans's cultural checkerboard, with each main character occupying a different square: music, food, drink, nebulous mysticism, self-righteousness, white expatriate civic engagement, et cetera. The result is a cast of typical--cynics might say stereotypical--Crescent City personalities.

The boisterous brass-band parade through the Treme neighborhood that kicks off the pilot--the first “second line" since the storm--draws several of the main characters in its wake. First comes trombonist Antoine Batiste (The Wire's Wendell Pierce), whom we see bringing up the rear of the parade with infectious funk riffs ("That's the Sixth Ward in my bone," he says), and smack-talking with his fellow musicians. He's neither at the bottom nor at the top of New Orleans's musical hierarchy, and we can tell he's struggling because he routinely shortchanges cabbies and doesn't appear to own a case for his trombone. (As a proud trumpet owner, I winced when I saw his horn bell-down on the counter.)

Continue Reading...

Post a comment


Jazz News

All About Jazz needs your support

All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.