Various Artists, "Treme, Music from the HBO Original Series, Season Two" (Rounder Records)
It doesn't take long for "Treme's" second season soundtrack to find the pulse of the good old New Orleans. Music is the city's bread and butter and music is the force that powers it to emerge from the ashes left in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The show's themes of survival, reinvention, community and heritage are clearly illustrated by this remarkable album.
The 18 tracks collated from the street and from live club performances of acclaimed artists saunter between genres, but don't stray from the Big Easy's styles. Everything from traditional jazz to Cajun music, roots rock, brass bands and R&B makes an appearance on this eclectic yet coherent album.
The Hot 8 Brass Brand starts the party with some sexy trumpets and drums that almost veer into hip-hop in "New Orleans After the City." A vocalist raps: "This is my city, my town/New Orleans/It's where I want to be/that's the place for me" in a bold introduction to the real star of the show.
Tom McDermott and Evan Christopher's clarinet and piano-laden "Heavy Henry" strays into Woody Allen spring-in-New York territory, lending the compilation a slight out-of-body experience.
The Iguanas infuse some Latin fire into the scene with "Oye, Isabel," while Aurora Nealand and The Royal Roses recall the spirit of the1940s with "Ferry Man."
The Mardi Gras carnival gets name checked in two tracks, most outstandingly in Steve Riley, Steve Earle and the Eunice Revelers' "Le Danse de Mardi Gras," a Cajun song and dance mixed with chanting.
The greatest strength of this album is the immediacy of the sound; the live recordings make one feel so close to the spirit of New Orleans that one can almost smell the cigarette smoke in the jazz club, feel the neighbor keeping the beat, and taste the Sazerac.
CHECK OUT THIS TRACK: Galactic, Dirty Dozen Brass Band and rapper Juvenile's tour de force in "From the Corner to the Block" is so catchy you might forget for a second you are not in New Orleans.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.