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Wendell Brunious

Musicians / Band

Music Note
  • Traditional Jazz
  • Trumpet
  • Vocal

*Wendell Brunious *embodies the spirit and history of everything that is New Orleans jazz: intensely qualified musicianship, deeply woven family ties, the sense that music is a conversation, and an unquestioned passion for the craft and the art. Brunious, who has been playing jazz-based trumpet since he was a youngster, was in 2023 named the first-ever musical director for the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, arguably the most enduring and well-known symbol of a cultural force and art form. Like so many New Orleans musicians, Brunious was born into a musical family; his father, John “Pickett” Brunious, was a Julliard-trained trumpeter who played with well-known local bands like the Onward Brass Band, Paul Barbarin, and the Young Tuxedo Brass Band, and arranged for world-famous stars like Billy Eckstine and Cab Calloway. Wendell Brunious began playing trumpet at age 11, and he credits his musical growth to his tutelage under sax master and bandleader Harold Dejan of the Olympia Brass Band. Brunious also studied under Danny Barker at Southern University, and in the 1970s he continued to cut his chops playing with the old line brass bands and in clubs on Bourbon Street. He hustled his way into gigging at Preservation Hall in the late 70s, and was named bandleader just a few years later. Over the years, Brunious has performed with a top-shelf artist roster, from the Dirty Dozen and Tuxedo brass bands to Harry Connick Jr., Wynton Marsalis, Lionel Hampton, Clark Terry and many others. He and guitarist Justin Adams initiated the jazz brunch at Commander’s Palace in the 1970s, and toured worldwide.  He has recorded several of his own albums, guested on many more, and, most recently, received acclaim for his work on the soundtrack to the hit Netflix movie, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” starring Viola Davis and Chadwick Boseman. Throughout his career, Brunious has continued to be involved with Preservation Hall. His brother John preceded him as bandleader at the venerable club, and his nephew Mark Braud has also served that role. In 2023, Preservation Hall named Brunious as its first musical director, calling on the esteemed trumpeter to supervise the repertoire of traditional jazz club and to serve as ambassador for its affiliated nonprofit, the Preservation Hall Foundation. He will also maintain relationships with the 60-odd musicians in the Preservation Hall Collective and recruit new talent. After nearly 50 years, Brunious is the keeper of the distinct “Brunious Sound.” He has acquired an encyclopedic knowledge of New Orleans musical traditions and history. He asserts he knows over 2000 songs by heart; through every song he plays, he offers a direct connection from the emergence of jazz in New Orleans to the music performed today.

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