Drummer Benny Jones Sr. is the leader of the Treme Brass Band. He also has an awesome hat.
William Claiborne, the first American governor of the Louisiana territory, believed New Orleans was ungovernable due to the citizenry's preoccupation with dancing. We're talking pre-jazz here. Later in the 19th century, New Orleans musicians adapted the concept of military regiment marching bands and took them to the streets in a whole new way.
Sylvester Coustaut's Onward Brass Band, later led by cornet player Manny Perez, was one of the earliest signals of the benevolent jazz birther movement. The band, like its predecessor The Excelsior Brass Band, consisted of highly trained Creole musicians who played music in dance halls, on boats and in the streets. New Orleans brass-band music continued without crisis until the death of drummer Paul Barbarin in 1969. The prevailing belief was that the next generation simply wasn't interested in carrying on the tradition.
Danny Barker, a guitar griot and banjo player who played professionally with Cab Calloway, Charlie Parker and others, is widely credited with rejuvenating the brass-band legacy in his native New Orleans. Barker returned home in the mid-1960s and formed the Fairview Baptist Church Band in 1971. The young musicians who were part of that band would become the cornerstone to a whole new brass-band movement, which updated the parading rhythms to the current trends in black popular music, modern jazz bebop language and funk.
One thing certainly hasn't changed. The citizens of New Orleans remain a tad ungovernable, and they still like to dance.