WBGO Blog
  • 'Treme,' Ep. 21: Jazz And Heritage

    July 4, 2011. Posted by Joshua Jackson.

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    Albert Lambreaux (Clarke Peters), Donald Harrison and Delmond Lambreaux (Rob Brown) perform with Mardi Gras Indians at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, on Treme. (Image Credit: Paul Schiraldi/HBO)

    In 2010, WBGO's Josh Jackson and I were down at New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, where we attended a panel discussion with the lead writers and actors of Treme. The show was only a few episodes old, but it had already won over a number of the locals and Jazz Fest regulars, from the audience's reaction. But after the show's producers admitted that Jazz Fest wouldn't make the program's first season, I distinctly recall several people expressing their disappointment. Apparently the first Jazz Fest after Hurricane Katrina was a rather cathartic experience.

    Well, it's never too late to get to Jazz Fest.

    Oh, hey Josh. You know, it struck me down there that Jazz Fest was a little bit more of a tourist draw than a locals' hangout. But here in the season finale, it's at least somewhat important for city residents — even if life goes on outside it — and clearly a joyous occasion.

    The festival is a huge economic engine for tourism. It also functions as a homecoming party for some expats. Despite its programming philosophy of attracting every demographic profile, there's still a lot to love about Jazz Fest as a showcase for local talent.

    I think so, anyway. Indeed, let's get to our weekly recap of the music of the show. This time, the season two finale.

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  • 'Treme,' Ep. 20: The Circle, Unbroken

    June 27, 2011. Posted by Joshua Jackson.

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    DJ Davis (Steve Zahn) address a crowd of musicians at Harley's memorial service on Treme. (Image Credit: Paul Schiraldi/HBO)

    In season one of Treme, an important death took place in the second-to-last episode. It's a pattern we saw in The Wire — the previous HBO series from Treme's creative team — where writer George Pelecanos was drafted to script often morbid plot twists in penultimate episodes of any given season.

    This season of Treme, Pelecanos wrote episode nine (episode 19 in total) — where Harley is murdered — but the most recent installment, the last before the season finale, had no plot twists on such a dramatic scale. We do see how Harley's seemingly senseless killing fits into the scheme. It reveals more about his previously mysterious character, a composite of so many who have moved to the city to play music. It brings the police force, and Lt. Colson's character, back into the fore. And it will seemingly launch Annie's career as a solo artist, now that she's come into Harley's stash of original compositions.

    This episode is heavy on music scenes, though. Josh Jackson and I present our weekly discussion of 'em.

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  • Dan Tepfer And Friends: Live At 92Y Tribeca

    June 22, 2011. Posted by Joshua Jackson.

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    Dan Tepfer. (Image Credit: John Rogers for NPR/johnrogersnyc.com)

    The jazz pianist Dan Tepfer isn't yet 30, but he's quickly built a reputation for quality — versatility, too. Two years ago, he put out an album of improvised duets with iconic saxophonist Lee Konitz, who's about 55 years his elder. Last year, Tepfer issued Five Pedals Deep, an elegant and modern trio album. (It's his third trio record, actually.) Soon, he'll also release his readings of and improvisations on J.S. Bach's Goldberg Variations, originally written for solo harpsichord.

    In the debut of The Checkout: Live at 92Y Tribeca concert series, Tepfer showed off these three sides of his musical personality. He played selections from his Goldberg Variations solo. He also called upon his friend and peer, tenor saxophonist Noah Preminger, for a series of duos largely of the compositions of Lennie Tristano and Lee Konitz. (Konitz was originally scheduled to perform as the guest of honor, but had to bow out for health reasons.) And he played a sparkling set with his trio, with Joe Martin on bass and Ted Poor on drums.

    In association with Josh Jackson of WBGO's The Checkout, who curates and produces this series, NPR Music featured a live HD video webcast of this concert on Wednesday, June 22.

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