Tuning into Tremé
Tuning into Tremé with Larry Blumenfeld: The HBO fiction and the New Orleans Reality
Part 2: What is New Orleans Tradition? With special guest, pianist Courtney Bryan
In Sidney Bechet's memoir, “Treat It Gentle,” the late, great clarinetist's real grandfather is supplanted by Omar, a fictional figure based on a folk tale, all the better to convey stirring truths about the true origins of New Orleans jazz. Real and imagined intermingle pointedly in New Orleans, in all walks of life. Set in New Orleans, David Simon’s fictional HBO series “Treme” picked up three months after the floods that resulted from the levee failures after Hurricane Katrina. Culture, which in New Orleans means a tight braid of music, cuisine, dance, visual art, and street life, was the primary focus of the series, as indeed it was and is the defining element of the city’s recovery and renewed identity.
These 90-minute conversations were led by writer Larry Blumenfeld, who covers jazz regularly for The Wall Street Journal, writes the “Blu Notes” blog at artinfo.com, and who has written extensively about New Orleans since the flood. He’ll use the fourth and final season of the HBO series to frame a wide-ranging consideration of jazz culture in New Orleans and its role in continued recovery. Excerpts from the show were screened and special guests—musicians, participants in the series, and scholars—joined in the discussion.