New Orleans' legendary Treme Brass Band has played magical music for decades and is beloved from the Treme & French Quarter to France and around the world
New Orleans' legendary Treme Brass Band has played magical music for decades and is beloved from the Treme & French Quarter to France and around the world. The men of Treme are survivors. They escaped the ravages of Hurricane Katrina, helping rebuild New Orleans through their incredible music. They also survived the loss of their leader, the iconic Uncle Lionel Batiste, who passed away in 2012. But just as a true New Orleans funeral leads to a second-line party, the show and the music must go on.
Treme Brass Band plays as much as they can. They've gained fans around the world via the HBO show "Treme" as well as an appearance in Spike Lee's New Orleans documentary "When The Levees Broke."
And every week they have two residencies in New Orleans, one on Tuesdays at d.b.a. on Frenchmen Street near the French Quarter and the other on Wednesdays at the famous Candlelight Lounge in the Treme And that's just for starters - you can catch them at other shows, festivals and second-lines all around town. Especially, of course, during Mardi Gras.
Benny Jones Sr. wouldn't have it any other way. Taking over as Treme's leader with the death of Uncle Lionel, Mr. Benny knows, like the band and New Orleans itself, the musical traditions of the city must survive as well.
He tells NPR's Weekend Edition:
"Still need somebody to do the traditional music so we can pass that to the younger generation. Somebody got to hold that spot down."
That includes leading dancers through the streets to mourn and celebrate. The band stays rooted in the customs of an earlier era, such as a dress code. "Sound good, look good," says Jones. "My band always had the black pants, white shirts, ties, coats. That's a New Orleans tradition. What the older bands did years ago."
“New Orleans brass bands have recently taken their inspiration from one of two camps: either revival-oriented neo-traditionalists or younger bands tending toward funk and hip hop. The Treme Brass Band expertly draws on both worlds to create what sounds like primitive Dixieland married to a rock-steady groove. This superbly recorded CD emphasizes a traditional repertoire, but leaves plenty of room for what has allowed New Orleans brass band music to endure for more than a hundred years: a loose-as-a-goose, swinging parade beat that absorbs various influences and produces true ‘soul’ music, a synthesis of the secular and the sacred. Arhoolie producer Chris Strachwitz and New Orleans documentarian Jerry Brock let the vibe breathe while capturing performances marked by exquisite musicianship. A similar accomplishment by the Excelsior Brass Band more than a decade ago caused Wynton Marsalis to rethink his entire approach to jazz. No telling what one listen to this authentically original, roots-of-all-American-roots music will do to you.”
(Roger Hahn — East Bay Express)
“The Tremè Brass Band is composed of legendary reed men and young innovators, old masters with the ‘rat-tat-tat’ born in their blood and, for the live half of the album recorded at the Louisiana Music Factory during this years Jazz Fest, two unidentified Japanese tourists sitting in on banjo and piano. Together they create a classic sound worthy of the famous neighborhood for which they're named, at once traditional, funky and unique. Gimme My Money Back captures one of the premier brass bands of New Orleans in superb unbridled form.
The rhythm sections is made up entirely of original Dirty Dozen members. Leader Benny jones (snare), Kirk Joseph (tuba), and Lionel ‘Unk’ Batiste (bass) whip up an exquisite batch of grinding synchopation capable of taking even the Gershwin tune ‘Oh lady be Good’ out on the NOLA streets. Kirk is a remarkably versatile player who knows how to make that incredible bubbling sound with his tuba (like the cooing of a six foot pigeon) and Unk's vocals are so blue they`re almost purple. His voice is the primary reason the title cut and the other original ‘Food Stamp Blues’ are so irristably funky.
But for pure musicianship check out Eliot ‘Stackman’ Callier and Fredric Kemp, both veterans of the Fats Domino band on ‘The Old Rugged Cross.’ Their counterpoint between the soprano and tenor saxophone is exquisite.
Put all that seasoned talent together with young colts Corey Henry (trombone), James Andrews (trumpet) and Kermit Ruffins of Rebirth fame on lead trumpet and you've got three generations of New Orleans' finest taking the genre to another level. These are musicians who can sample from a century of traditional and contemporary music, throwing in signatures from famous blues, gospel, jazz, R&B and other brass band hits such as ‘Do Whatcha Wanna,’ even the circus/sideshow themewithout, missing a stitch and all the while remaining true to their traditional roots. Look out Rebirth and Dirty Dozen, the Treme is coming.”
(Jonathan Tabak — OffBeat)
“Most welcome news in these quarters is the arrival of ‘Gimme My Money Back,’ an exhilarating collection of street music favorites and instant classics by the pride of the Sixth Ward, the Treme Brass band.
Produced by Jerry Brock for Chris Strachwitz' Arhoolie Records, ‘Gimme My Money Back!’ combines a set of studio performances cut at Willie Tee's with the band's stellar live set from then 3rd Annual Brass Band Blowout at the Louisiana Music Factory during Jazz Fest 1995.
The highlight of the studio side is the title track, a rollicking new composition by trumpeter James Andrews that kicks off the CD in high style, while the live date culminates with the old Sixth Ward anthem called ‘Food Stamps.’ Spirituals (‘Jesus on the Mainline,’ ‘Just a Closer Walk With Thee,’ ‘The Old Rugged Cross’), stomps and gut-bucket fun dominate this great new release by the Treme Brass Band, which also features classics like ‘Hindustan,’ ‘Chinatown, My Chinatown,’ ‘Lady Be Good,’ and ‘Back O'Town Blues.’”
(John Sinclair — Offbeat)
Treme Brass Band
Location: New Orleans, LA
Member: Jone (snare,bass drum)
Batiste (bass drum, vocals, grand marshal)
Corey Henry (trombone)
Kenneth Terry (trumpet,vocals)
Keith Anderson (trombone)
Philip Frasier (sousaphone)
Kermith Ruffins (trumpet)
Elliot "Stackman" Callier (tenor sax)
Kerwen James (sousaphone)
Revert Andrews (trombone)
Eddie Boh Parris (trombone,vocals)
Butch Gomez (soprano sax)