“Tremé” really isn’t all that engaging a show. It does, however, serve as television’s way of reminding viewers that NOLA’s still a place that has a bit of work to do before completely recovering from Katrina. Just ask Jay Electronica, but give him a minute to finish up that soda commercial. Either way, the Rebirth Brass Band figures musically into the previously mentioned show—they’re included in its soundtrack. And like the David Simon show, Rebirth’s latest disc, “The Rebirth of New Orleans,” attempts to liven up an otherwise problematic situation. The disc and its brightly colored cover seem to depict a city amidst the thralls of revitalization. With songs like “What Goes Around Comes Around,” though, listeners should get the feeling that all’s not well as of yet. “Around,” a track that could really have come from any of Rebirth’s previous albums stretching back twenty-five or so years, sports some Bootsy-esque sing-along chorus which goes a long way toward further lightening the atmosphere. Among tracks that maintain an appreciation for past autochthonous styles, these NOLA players seem to subtly cry out for what made jazz a unique and seismic shift from balladry during the early twentieth century. Within the form remain a number of rigid expectations—anyone with the last name Marsalis is ample proof of that. But hearing Rebirth skitter through efforts purposefully put together to display a town’s gumption is something beyond putting on a suit and playing standards. Rebirth’s seven-minute tune “Feelin’ Free” is as much about the musical notions Louis Armstrong blurted out through his horn as it is about the jubilation life can bring during even its worst times. Maybe Rebirth fooled itself into thinking NOLA’s going to be renewed in some way. That may well happen, but probably not too soon. “The Rebirth of New Orleans” just works to push the timetable closer. (Dave Cantor)
October 28-29 at Martyrs’, 3855 North Lincoln, (773)404-9494, 9:30pm. $25.