The new HBO TV series Treme – named after the oldest black community in New Orleans – stands to “alter America’s perception of music long marginalized in our popular culture. Until now,” says the Chicago Tribune’s critic Howard Reich. Oh, this is music. Real, honest, jazz at its best.
But “Treme isn’t exclusively about music. As the Tribune’s critic points out, “Simon (Producer Davis Simon) and friends aren’t trying to produce a treatise on jazz but, rather, a dramatic series about the near-death of a city.
–And not just any city, but one that has exported more musical culture to the rest of the country – and the world – than anyplace else on this continent.”
Here is the music of a great city. The fabulous Treme Brass Band playing “A Closer Walk With Thee,” echoing the heartsick sounds of a post-Katrina community. The Mardi Gras Indians chanting “Shallow Waters.” Kermit Ruffins, who appears weekly in the Bywater neighborhood’s Vaughan’s Lounge, here expressively playing his incomparable trumpet. Tom McDermott extolling the famed jazzman Jelly Roll Morton in words and on the piano.
Color is part of New Orleans excitement. Watch any street parade, visit any special café or restaurant – in fact, do almost anything in the city – and you will be aware of how color is such a dominant part of the vibrancy we call New Orleans.
Primary colors abound, in clothing and accessories, in costumes and so much more. Red. Blue. Yellow. Oh, wow! The Yellow! It is really intense!
NEW ORLEANS. HERE ARE SOME COLOR BRIGHT ACCESSORIES TO BUY AT REAL VALUE PRICES AND SHOW OFF WITH JAZZTOWN SOUL:
- Colorful organza church hat with floral lace pattern.
- Ladies dress fedora in color – sassy, trendy, and really New Orleans style!
Feathers are another important fashion item in the Big Easy. Feathers bring in the culture and excitement of the city’s Indian population, often extolled not by Indians themselves but by blacks, dressed up in feathered Indian gear, dancing joyfully in street parades. The black population here identifies with the Indians, since they were both badly used by the white man.
Yellow feathers are wild, happy, even electrifying, especially when expressed in voluminous handmade costumes replete with exquisite Indian beading.
–Oh yes, and then there is the characteristic black and white outfits set out so formally for funerals, so special, taking on a dimension beyond the colors themselves.
Treme is not a documentary about the tragedy of New Orleans, but rather a broader story that tells so much about this town’s unique culture. It raises your spirits and helps you understand there is “still life to be lived in New Orleans,” as the Tribune critic puts it.
New Orleans is a city of music. And fashion. And a remarkably resilient people. Reich refers to the music as “undiluted, uncompromised, unbowed.” He might have been talking about New Orleans itself, the excitement of the city, the rich panorama of black and Creole neighborhoods. The food. Oh, the food! Mardi Gras. And the theatrical vibrancy of the French Quarter, with its bawdy Bourbon Street. Nowhere else in the United States is there anything like this!
FASHION IN NEW ORLEANS CAN NEVER BE FORGOTTEN WHEREVER YOU ARE IN THE CITY. HERE ARE SOME PRODUCTS JUST MEANT FOR THE BIG EASY:
- Fleur de lis bracelet watch delivers the message of support for New Orleans.
- Feather boas in rich colors – yellow, blue, pink, purple, more…!
Music Bubbles Up
“Music sets the tempo of life in New Orleans,” Reich says. It is everywhere. Music still “bubbles up from the streets,” as New Orleans pianist Ellis Marsalis famously put it. Bands parade up and down the streets of the city. Intense, emotionally moving jazz band funerals characterize the town and the people.
Little by little, New Orleans is reemerging. Yet, it is amazing to realize how many Americans don’t know the depth and breadth of the city and its music. It is left to programs like this very special HBO series to try to enlighten viewers about the richness and majesty of New Orleans jazz.
As Reich optimistically puts it, “Treme can enlighten a coast-to-coast audience about a music it hardly knows.” How wonderful for the country!