Not too long ago, I had the wonderful opportunity to check out some great NOLA (New Orleans, LA) Jazz from some of the legends themselves. The event was hosted and narrated by the star of David Simon and Eric Overmyer’s post-Katrina inspired HBO series, Treme, (pronounced Tre-may). Wendell Pierce, who plays the trombonist Antoine Batiste, narrated the event and shed light on the social implications of the music. “Treme,” in the spirit of Simon’s “The Wire,” focuses on a struggling city coming to grips with all the challenges brought upon by socioeconomic as well as political injustice. While “Treme” focuses more on the music culture in NOLA, it is appropriate to a city where the music is what unifies the locals, the haves as well as the have-nots.
The concert itself unified the masses within the lovely venue, Davies Symphony Hall. The Rebirth Brass Band, an institution in NOLA for almost thirty years, was simply amazing. Stafford Agee of the band plays the actual trombone you hear from “Antoine Batiste.” The Rebirth Brass Band provided the backdrop for such Jazz legends as Kermit Ruffins‘ great vocals, trumpeter; Dr. Micheal White, legendary clarinet player; Donald Harrison Jr, Mardi Gras Indian chief and alto saxophone star, who delivered an incredible sax solo, which blew my mind. Trombonist Big Sam Williams was also tearing it up with some mean brass work. Clarke Peters, Albert “Big Chief” Lambreaux on “Treme,” also made an appearance, saying a few words about NOLA, the music, and the show. During the second part of the show, all the ladies seated in the orchestra section got up, danced with the band on stage, and brought incredible Mardi Gras inspired umbrellas and costumes that adding to the boisterous flavor of the event. Overall, I would say that this event captured, for me, everything awesome about NOLA Jazz and solidified my need to attend Mardi Gras next year!