Josh Jackson

When the prime minister of Jamaica bestowed jazz pianist Monty Alexander with the title of Commander in the Order of Distinction, some of his friends teasingly referred to him as Commander Zander. But there's truth in the honorific: Alexander has been a great ambassador for Jamaican music and American jazz. Those two musical legacies meet in his latest project, the Harlem-Kingston Express.

'Treme,' Ep. 18: After Mardi Gras

Jun 13, 2011

It took a while to notice, but this season of Treme has set up another parallel between the chef Janette and the ranks of musicians. When her chef at Le Bernardin — an actual restaurant, played by Eric Ripert, the actual chef — senses her unhappiness, he points it out. She once had her own kitchen, where she learned to "express yourself" — now, she's working at her "craftsmanship" on another's vision.

'Treme,' Ep. 17: Mardi Gras Mayhem

Jun 6, 2011

Two years running, Treme has featured a sensory-overload pageant of a Mardi Gras episode. Let's get right to this one. New Orleans native son Josh Jackson is here again to help break down the music.

Patrick Jarenwattananon: A lot of the first few scenes are scored to the sounds of marching bands. First, what's all this business with the Muses parade and their glitter shoes?

The history of jazz cello is full of strings attached. Upright bass players — among them Oscar Pettiford, Percy Heath, Harry Babasin, Ray Brown and Ron Carter — have occasionally strayed. But their contributions to the diminutive violoncello are often overshadowed by their work on its bigger, heavier cousin.

'Treme,' Ep. 16: A Village On An Island

Jun 1, 2011

I think I'm starting to figure this place out. It's a village — a village on an island. Everyone's connected. They may love each other, they may hate each other, but they're all related. ... It's all connected somehow. And I'm this close to seeing how it all hooks up.
--Nelson Hidalgo

The New Orleans of Treme has often felt like a small town, where many characters wear multiple hats, and six degrees of separation feel more like one or two. But this season, that quality has been heightened ever so slightly.

'Treme,' Ep. 15: Finding Your Voice

May 23, 2011

If you've ever been to the funeral of a beloved musician, you know there's a lot of positivity under the somber tone. It's one of the few times a busy musical community manages to come together and remember the contributions of their late compatriot. And in the New Orleans of Treme, funerals have often been healing and regenerative: There's catharsis in walking in that second line.

'Treme,' Ep. 13: All Politics Is Local

May 9, 2011

Spoiler alert: There are three break-ins during the latest episode of Treme. There's the looting that happened at Janette's old place, the bust of Sonny's apartment and, of course, the sexual assault on LaDonna. (What a performance from Khandi Alexander!)

'Treme,' Ep. 12: It's Gonh Be Funky

May 2, 2011

In November 2006, new problems were emerging in the rebuilding of New Orleans. To compound the lingering issues with police work immediately after Hurricane Katrina, crime is up again. Government agencies are spending freely with contractors via patronage networks, while working-class laborers are seeing relatively little of that money. There are proposals afoot to rezone the city and wipe out neighborhoods, and new politicians who are debating those ideas. Public schools are underfunded, and parents are taking notice.

In late March, The Bad Plus descended upon Duke University to unveil its take on Igor Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring. You can now hear a recording of "On Sacred Ground: Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring" at The Checkout.