Treme Brass Band

Benny Jones (snare drum) and “Uncle” Lionel Batiste (bass drum) of the Treme Brass Band. Photo © Matt Sakakeeny.

The Treme Brass Band has been the most prominent purveyors of traditional music since drummer Benny Jones founded the band in the early 1990s, along with bass drummer Uncle Lionel Batiste. Despite Jones’ history playing with the funky Dirty Dozen, the Treme plays traditional repertoire in a loose, relaxed style. Treme’s 1996 album Gimme My Money Back (Arhoolie Records) exemplifies their approach, and includes “Just A Closer Walk With Thee,” the spiritual that typically begins a jazz funeral procession in New Orleans.

Like many New Orleans brass bands, the membership in Treme Brass Band is fluid.  Regulars include Jones, Batiste, Kenneth Terry (trumpet), Eddie King (trombone), and Jeffrey Hills (tuba). In addition, Corey Henry (trombone) and Roger Lewis (saxophone) often play in the band. Unlike many other bands, however, Treme Brass Band is one of a relatively small number of bands that regularly features white musicians, including Bruce Brackman (clarinet), Craig Klein (trombone), and Woody Penouilh (tuba).

The inclusion of the clarinet points to Treme’s more tradition-oriented repertoire, although the band also includes more modern tunes like Rebirth’s “Do Whatcha Wanna.” In addition to being featured in episodes of HBO’s Treme, the Treme Brass Band received a National Heritage Award in 2006. The band currently plays a weekly Wednesday night show at the Candlelight Lounge.

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