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Rebirth Brass Band – Move Your Body and Spread the Love

25th August 2014   ·   0 Comments

By Geraldine Wyckoff
Contributing Writer

“We had a lot of fans before but now it’s ridiculous — in a good way,” exclaims Rebirth Brass Band tuba man and co-leader Phil Frazier. He’s talking, of course, about the last year-and-a-half since the Rebirth won a Grammy in 2012 for its blazing hot album, Rebirth of New Orleans. Obviously, the ensemble, formed back in 1983, did not intend to rest on the laurels of that great achievement and pumped out a new disc this spring, a slam dunk release, Move Your Body. Both recordings are on the homegrown Basin Street Records label and produced by Tracey Freeman, who beyond his work with Rebirth is noted for producing numerous albums by pianist/vocalist Harry Connick Jr.

The Rebirth is often on the road during the weekends but always makes it back into town for its standing, Tuesday night gig at the Maple Leaf – it’s missed like three dates in almost 25 years. On Saturday, August 30, it plays what’s become an almost rare date at Tipitina’s. Both Tip’s and the Maple Leaf are granddaddies of the live music scene so they boast that real deal New Orleans vibe. Each venue has its advantages – the music at the Leaf is literally more “in your face” and Tip’s larger stage offers bandmembers the room to strut their moves. The Rebirth also makes its sole appearance on the street on Sunday, September 28, 2014 to roll at the Young Men Olympian Junior Benevo­lent Association’s 130th Annual Anniversary Parade.



Move Your Body really shows off the Rebirth’s continual musical growth collectively and that of its individual members. These always street-wise guys are not only funky but increasingly musically sophisticated as heard on the tightly executed well-informed arrangements on the title cut, “Move Your Body.”

Frazier says that one of the biggest pops for audiences from the new CD include “Rebirth Groove,” a tune written collaboratively, that kicks with its demanding call and response – “If you gonna rock with me, let’s rock. If you gonna roll with me, let’s roll.” He points out, however, that every cut from the album has been getting a great reception.

“All the songs are on the same level – they’re all hot,” Frazier says with his usual warm enthusiasm. “That’s a good thing for Rebirth.”

Frazier has found that the new fan base, much like the previous one, is made up of members of both the younger and older generations. That’s particularly true in New Orleans where, as has long been the case, kids, their parents and even their grandparents can often groove and sing along to many a tune.

“It’s hand and hand; that’s what makes it special,” Frazier agrees. “At the Maple Leaf, every year a new class (from the nearby universities) comes in.”

Among the many party-down tunes on the album, like “Who’s Rockin’, Who’s Rollin’?” the mellower reggae rhythm of saxophonist Vincent Broussard’s “On My Way” offers a change of pace. That’s just how it happens on a second line when things get fiery and it’s time to chill out. Frazier’s tuba provides the essential bass line, the core of any solid reggae tune. Special guest, Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews, adds his horn to accent the trombone’s important role in old-school reggae.

Reggae has been a go-to source for many area artists from an array of styles – brass band, zydeco and Mardi Gras Indians. The reason, says Frazier is “the beat itself. New Orleans has that syncopated beat and reggae has almost the same kind of beat. It goes back to the African days – it goes way back. We’ve recorded a reggae song before but this song is special because we did it more like a reggae than a brass song.”

Performing and traveling so much, the Rebirth as a unit has little time to get together to practice. “We actually rehearse on stage,” Frazier explains adding that the band’s Tuesday nights at the Leaf particularly help to fill that gap. “We’ll say, ‘Let’s try this.’ Mistakes are the best thing. If you don’t mistakes, how can you learn? We’ll say, ‘Let’s do it again.’ We still have to make it fresher. We’ll never stop (incorporating) new material. “

“Everybody is shedding at home,” Frazier continues when commenting on the obvious individual growth of the members of the band. “My mind just keeps on music – ‘Oh, try this. I’ll try it tonight.’”

There were periods in the Rebirth Brass Band’s 31-year history when membership went through a number of changes. Through them all, the Frazier brothers, Phil and co-leader, bass drummer Keith Fra­zier remained steadily at the helm. The Rebirth found stability — and success — with such talented and now-longtime members as snare drummer Derrick Tabb, trombonists Stafford Agee and Gregory Veals, trumpeter Derrick Shezbie and saxophonist Vincent Brous­sard plus the newest and youngest member, 25-year-old trumpeter Chadrick Honore.

“I have children older than Chad — ain’t that something?” Frazier, 42, remarks with a laugh and a sense of disbelief.

Considering the Rebirth Brass Band’s remarkable success — a Grammy for Rebirth of New Orleans and its strong follow-up Move Your Body, what advice does Frazier have for serious young brass bands looking to follow in its path?

“I love TBC and Most Wanted (brass bands) – I listen to them all the time,” says Frazier. “The better they get, the harder it pushes me to get even better. You have to have an open heart and an open mind to everything. Stay focused for one thing. Never stop doing what you’re doing no matter. Don’t ever give up no matter how bad it gets – it’s going to get better in the long run. Stay focused and stay humble and everything will fall into place.”

“We’re just showing our love and trying to keep everybody happy,” says Frazier of playing at Tipitina’s and venues all over town. “We try to spread ourselves around to everybody — like peanut butter and jelly.”

This article originally published in the August 25, 2014 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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