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Home Is In Your Heart – A Night in Treme

Editor’s Note: UMS will present “A Night in Treme:The Musical Majesty of New Orleans,” a night of New Orleans jazz featuring the Rebirth Brass Band, this Friday, November 11 at Hill Auditorium. The following note is from Leo Sacks, who is directing a feature documentary about the New Orleans gospel sensation Raymond Myles. After Katrina, he created The New Orleans Social Club and produced the group’s acclaimed Sing Me Back Home. He recently produced Take A Look: Aretha Franklin Complete on Columbia, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of her first pop recording.

The heavens opened and the storm waters surged and the bowl began to fill, and our favorite street paraders, and piano ticklers, and rhythm-and-blues singers, and funkateers, and trumpeteers were scattered to the winds.

They wondered whether they would ever go home or would want to. For some it was a test of faith. Do you rebuild? Can you afford to? Can you afford not to? Will the future be friendly? Others saw it as an opportunity to reaffirm their trust in the infinite wisdom of the universe.

They are more than musicians. They are healers, and from the Diaspora of musical genius they have come together to heal themselves.

Some of them will be here this Friday.

Their stories are told on Treme, the HBO drama that follows a group of locals as they pick up the pieces in the months after the levees failed in 2005. Treme is about people who found the grace to return to their silent streets and look beyond the desolation, and believed that their lives were turned upside down for some divine reason.

This Friday, the gathered ones have come to play, for family and friends, for the displaced and the forgotten, for their elders and ancestors in the Spirit World.

“If you don’t return to the roots of a tree, it won’t be there anymore,” Donald Harrison, Jr., the saxophonist and cultural anthropologist who is also this Friday’s music director, says. “From these roots, the fruit grows all over the world.”

This Friday, we can smell the fragrance of sweet jasmine and gardenias instead of the mold and mud. This Friday, we celebrate how these musical healers have worked through their rage and fear and frustration and heartbreak and heartache—their defiance and devotion and the vulnerability.

Slowly, these musicians have rebuilt the Old Neighborhood, even if it isn’t there anymore, exactly. Today in Treme, the music prevails.