"pays tribute to the musicians of New Orleans, whose playing is like no other in the world"
Renée Edwards began her career during the mid 1990’s. Some of her best known work was made for television, and long standing current affairs series Panarama, Unreported World and Dispatches and award winning documentary dramas including “A Fight to the Death” and “The Mind Reader.” One Note at a Time is her feature length documentary directorial debut.
One Note at a Time took nine years to complete, four of which were spent observing a handful of musicians, of differing genres, as they collect themselves together after the sheer devastation New Orleans was hit by, looking also at the impact it had from a musical perspective.
Stories relating to their music and healthcare are interspersed amongst this, as we regularly pay a visit to the New Orleans Musicians’ Clinic. The clinic acts as a source of comfort, and lifeline to the musicians but in turn it has had its own problems, as it strives to fulfil its mission to ‘keep the music ALIVE’.
In 2017 Donald J. Trump entered the Whitehouse as the 45th President of the United States. He promised to follow up the Conservative Party policy, to amend repeal or replace Obama’s Affordable Care Act, fought for in the first place to save lives, avoid financial strife and set the country on a healthier path.
The shift in affordable healthcare services for the working impoverished is comparable to the incidences in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina struck in August 2005.
Bobby Jindal, who was the Governor of Louisiana between 2008 and 2016, set up a restrictive healthcare system, with the view to build up acceptance from the Republican Party.
Born to an English mother and African American father, Edwards felt inclined to make the film since she would visit family there, at different times. In her adulthood she got to know the city well, as was absolutely mesmerising by the sounds of live music.
The storm to follow caused her immense sorrow, as it cut into her heart, and those of people who were more directly involved. She, after all, felt as if she had but scratched the surface of the city.
In the film treasurable moments are frozen in time, as a period in musical history is catalogued. Matters of contention raised in the film continue today; and uncommonly, a few of the musicians to feature have since died. In some instances, therefore, you witness their last performances, plus interviews.
These include the likes of Wardell Quezergue, Uncle Lionel Batiste, Walter Payton Jr, Herman ‘Roscoe’ Ernest and Clarence ’Trixzey’ Slaughter. I believe One Note At A Time is extra special as not only is it told through the voice of a black, female film maker but is also carried along by an American and English film crew. The cast is predominately made up of Americans.
I shall leave you with the words Bethany Ewald Bultman, co-founding director of the New Orleans Musicians’ Clinic, uttered to the film’s director after seeing it: ‘…You artfully depict the factors from without and within which are undermining its health and survival. No other film has ever accomplished this.’
And with the inevitable question of ‘will New Orleans’ music survive?’ One Note At A Time pays tribute to the musicians of New Orleans, whose playing is like no other in the world, with its jubilance and expression.