Treme

Bobby Sanabria On 'Treme' And Afro-Cuba

My fellow bloggers Josh Jackson and Patrick Jarenwattananon have been killin' it with their weekly observations and insights into the musical feast that is HBO's Treme.

In fact, the show has folks in musical communities around the country tuning in and talking about it. I wanted to share this observation from New York City-based musician/bandleader/educator Bobby Sanabria, from the Yahoo! Latin Jazz listserv. He's been listening through an Afro-Cuban filter:

Re: Treme episode 3, when Davis's best friend visits him, he knocks on his door with the [3-2] son clave ... to get his attention. Then he just randomly knocks something else in addendum before Davis answers as if to cover it up for the audience and Davis. Not an unusual thing in New Orleans or the Bronx, Brooklyn, or El Barrio, as we young 'Ricans and Cubans learned to knock that so our parents knew who it was at the door. It happened so fast and subtly that I smiled when I caught it.

The layers of nuance in David Simon's Treme are so deep that one must play close attention to what is happening both visually, aurally, and verbally. The Big Chief Albert Lambreaux character could indeed be compared to the Yoruba deity Ogun personified. He's a worker (Ogun is a patron to workers), a builder working with metal, wood, whatever, constantly re-building, similar to Ogun who constantly forges iron. And if you think that's a stretch, he plays the instrument that is always working, the noble bass. He's proud, constantly with his head up. He doesn't take jack s—- from anyone. And like Ogun, he administers justice swiftly and viciously, as he did in the last episode with a metal pipe as if it was Ogun's mighty machete.

Again I saw more local musicians that I met last year interspersed throughout the episode. And the ending of episode three? The remnants of the Big Chief's house re-uniting to begin to honor a fallen brother/ancestor, who was the Wild Man for his Indian tribe/gang through music. In particular, drumming and chanting that alternated between 4/4 and 6/8. If that doesn't corelate to an Abacua fraternity in Cuba and of course all the way back to Africa, I don't know what does, along with the sense of secrecy and pride of any New Orleans Indian tribe which rivals that of any Abacua potencia in Cuba. And they were drumming in public. Outside, just like the mighty rumbas we used to have in the projects and playgrounds of the Bronx, Brooklyn, and El Barrio before our illustrious previous Mayor Giuliani outlawed drumming in public in order to promote his quality of life campaign.

Ache',
Bobby Sanabria

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