One Note at a Time
Time Out says
This musical labour of love celebrates the sounds of New Orleans with enthusiasm and affection.
‘One Note at a Time’ is an apt title for this documentary, which charts New Orleans musicians’ struggle to rebuild their lives in the ongoing aftermath of 2005’s Hurricane Katrina. An alternative title might be ‘Deafness and Diabetes’, because there’s a lot of both – many of these artists are suffering decades of side-effects from the job, and everything that comes with it. And things took a drastic turn for the worse with Katrina.
As a kid, British director Renee Edwards spent her summers holidaying in New Orleans, and this ten-year labour of love is a celebration of those keeping its heart beating. There are A-list legends like Dr John, but also lesser-known, fascinating characters like Barry Martyn, a white English jazz drummer from Staines. Martyn has lived in New Orleans since 1984, and plays with a culture-blending cadence. Then there’s Hot 8 Brass Band trumpeter Terrell Batiste, who was hit by a car on the freeway soon after Katrina and lost both legs – yet was back on the road in his wheelchair within five months. There’s a jubilant horn doctor, surrounded by smashed-up brass instruments, lovingly fixing them up.
‘One Note at a Time’ doesn’t have much in the way of cinematic scope, and it ambles along at a leisurely pace, but it’s a deeply affectionate chronicle of a city in recovery – a city that’s so much more than bricks and mortar. On we go.