new orleans--bands on the run, AGAIN?

Brass-band street musicians are once again at odds with the NOPD and the powers that be. Unlike the scene I wrote about in Tremé in 2007, nobody's been hauled off in cuffs (yet). Newly elected mayor Mitch Landrieu and his newly appointed police chief Ronal Serpas are too wise for that. But some old and probably archaic noise ordinances are being dusted off an enforced to the detriment of the very spontaneous street action depicted in, say, HBO's "Treme". 

You can find a good account of this still-developing story at the N.O. weekly Gambit's blog here. 

And a further update here.

As always, the Times-Picayune's Katy Reckdahl puts it in good perspective:

Along with the storied legacy of street music in New Orleans is a long history of those very streets (and plazas, such as Jackson Square) as contested space. I touched on all that in my Village Voice piece on HBO's "Treme" (if you're willing to read most of the way through, that is...)

If you want to register indignation in a productive way, try this FaceBook page:

Anyway, I'm trying to stay on top of the current situation, and I'll write more on this when I know more. 

June 17, 2010 10:56 AM | | Comments (0)


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Evan Christopher Django à la Créole (Lejazzetal) 

Clarinetist Evan Christopher, a California native, moved to New Orleans in 1994. In his frequent duets with Tom McDermott, and as a standout member of trumpeter Irvin Mayfield's New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, his erudite and personalized approach to traditional jazz commands attention.

Dr. Michael White Blue Crescent (Basin Street) 

Long before the floods that devastated his city, clarinetist Michael White wrestled with the challenge of preserving New Orleans traditional jazz without embalming it. He sought to write tunes built on time-honored local forms that spoke to the here-and-now. But Dr. White struggled to compose anything at all during the past three years--until late 2007, when original music began pouring forth.

Dee Dee Bridgewater
Red Earth: A Malian Journey (DDB Records/Emarcy/Universal) Despite her place in the top rank of American jazz vocalists and her crossover success, Dee Dee Bridgewater has often felt displaced. "I'm always trying to fit in somewhere," she once told me. This new disc, which finds Ms. Bridgewater and her band in collaboration with a cast of Malian musicians and singers, is no further pose:
David Murray Black Saint Quartet featuring Cassandra Wilson Sacred Ground (Justin Time) 
Long among the strongest, most adventurous reedmen in jazz,
Joe Zawinul Brown Street (Heads Up) 
The list of great Viennese composers must include Zawinul--same for the honor roll of jazz innovators.
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