David Simon and HBO’s Treme—-a chronicle of the musicians and other residents of New Orleans struggling to rebuild their homes and lives after Hurricane Katrina—-could never hope to meet the bar set by their previous Baltimore-based series, The Wire. But it has done something that its predecessor couldn’t: For all its somberness and hardship, it reintroduced America to a city within its own boundaries whose life and culture deserve to be celebrated. Jazz, both traditional and contemporary; gospel; rhythm & blues; funk; hip-hop; and frothing amalgamations of the above have gained a forum and a newly enthusiastic audience via a television program with a fervid fan base. As evidence, the closing show of the DC Jazz Festival, a showcase at the Kennedy Center called “A Night in Treme,” is sold out.
But this is one of those shows where you stand in long cancellation lines if you have to. Emceed by Treme star Wendell Pierce, it features contemporary representatives of New Orleans’ musical traditions, many of whom have appeared on the show: the Rebirth Brass Band, trumpeter/singer James Andrews, clarinetist Dr. Michael White, trombonist “Big Sam” Williams, and alto saxophonist and musical director Donald Harrison. You don’t see lineups like this outside The Big Easy itself, and unless you’ve got a trip forthcoming, this is can’t-miss stuff. Find a way to be there.
“A Night in Treme” begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall, 2700 F Street NW. $20-$65. Sold out.