Can there really be no jazz in HBO’s Treme?

The publicity machine for Treme is now in full flow on both sides of the Atlantic.

This TV drama series from David Simon, who created The Wire is about a family of New Orleans musicians rebuilding their lives after Hurricane Katina. The first of its 10 episodes was screened on TV screens in North America last night. And it will reach the UK in the autumn.

The Guardian Review did a feature on it on Saturday, by a Brooklyn-based writer named Gabe Soria. Which has one curious omission:

The word “jazz” doesn’t appear in the article. Eleven mentions of “music” or “musicians” but no J-Word. Anywhere.

“It’s a game: write about Treme without saying the J-word:”, the sage John L Walters suggested to me, pointing out that neither the New Yorker’s piece nor David Simon’s guide to the series had been infected or inflected by the J-Word.

Anyway, a consolation prize to Sarah Hughes of the Independent, who hasn’t quite managed it. She gets one reference in. The word jazz qualifies the noun funeral. Oh dear.

Heres the Guardian’s piece.

For those who can’t get enough of Treme, the Watching Treme blog looks like it will cater to those with gargantuan appetites for news and detail.

Your first-hand sightings of anything resembling jazz from in front of a North American TV screen will be welcome!

Categories: miscellaneous

5 replies »

  1. Hello London Jazz&Ken Collier Trust.
    As a family member of NOLA Jazz (KID ORY).
    I had watched HBO's Treme a week ago,& aging at 12:30 this morning after a Great Terrance Blanchard gig @Catalina's here in Los Angeles.
    If any one is astounded that Jazz the word was not present,then you did not feel or listen to the same programme.The Fact that Pops was mention in a scripted dialog&West End Blues was Background Music in the Kermit scene while he was barbequeing in his back yard.
    I went back after Katrina,for The French Quarter Fest &gave an Oral History to the National Parks service in 2006 .Only if you had been in NOLA before The some time after as Treme is portraying in the HBO series.You are missing the fact of My family died,& lost everything as well as many others& Musicians such as Michael White & Fats Domino lost all there work & instruments as well as gigs. My dad /Kid Ory was a true believer that Jazz would prevail,& that the seris is on & not about drugs only or violence.
    Well that is a great improvement over past offerings about Crescent City.
    Vaughn's on Thursdays in Treme is Kermit's Barbecue Swingers roost,My family & I as well as many visitors have funked out & swung to 21 century Jazz in the Crescent City
    Except for Jazz clubs or marketed Jazz events ,
    I have conversations of tone,meter&players abilities over the word Jazz ex on Duke Ellington's Tribute with the Luckman Jazz Orchestra ,we spoke of arrangements,horns &reeds with Mr. Maupin et al.Jazz was not mentioned Backstage. Write to the producers&voice your complaints NOLA is Rising again ,Family,Community Church & Food go hand & Hand with Music Jazz or other wise in the Cradle of Jazz
    Babette Ory Los angeles

  2. Hello Again ,almost forgot,the water lines,the language &the smell of rot &gumbo with some barbecue on the side And Jazz second line too boot!
    You can almost feel the aftermath in all 5 senses
    Babette Ory
    Los Angeles

  3. Thanks Babette for bringing it all so vividly to life.

    One reader told me today that he thought the blanking of the word jazz had been deliberate, fear of alienating younger audiences blah blah!

  4. A thoughtful reply came in from the author of US NPR's jazz blog a blog supreme


    They say that in N.O., music is embedded in every last fiber of culture. My hypothesis: naming it on TV almost breaks the spell.

    Thanks. I'm still curious about Gabe Soria's piece. Maybe a teacher from a journalism school can enloghten me.

    Is the appearance of the words “music” or “musician” no fewer than eleven times in an article, but no mention the kind of music being played is helpful to the reader?

  5. Sarah Hughes, the author of the Independent piece wrote to us by email.

    You're right I should have mentioned the word jazz more than once.

    It honestly wasn't intentional leaving it out, I grew up listening to my dad's records (in particular New Orleans jazz) and while I freely admit to being musically incompetent, it was actually unintentional to use the word music in place of the word jazz.

    Anyway I just wanted to let you know that I don't have some strange hatred or snobbery about jazz – more a certain knowledge that I only
    know it to listen to rather than talk about if that makes sense.

    The problem with being a TV writer is that sometimes a show such as Treme comes along where the writers clearly know a huge amount about their subject and you the critic can respond strongly to that while simultaneously knowing that you yourself know very little about that subject and may well expose that ignorance in your review.

    Anyway my apologies and at least I've now found your blog to help me out.

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