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Philip Frazier III, Bass Horn BORN: New Orleans, February 10,1966 Founder and leader of the Rebirth Brass Band Interviewed at }6zi Burgundy Street, November 2002 I have two brothers whoare musicians: Keith is the bass drummer with the Rebirth Brass Band, and my baby brother, KerwinJames, is the tubaplayer with the New Birth. Kerwin has my mother's last name. Cie Frazier is my great uncle. I started playing music because of my mother—sheplayed gospel piano in the Christian Mission Church on North Robertson , in the Treme. My brothersand sister used to sing in the choir there. When Igot ingrade school, I started playing trombone. My brother started plajing baritone horn, and we used to go to church sometimes toplay with my mother. That's where it started, but in high school, that's where it really took off. I attendedJoseph S. Clark High School; so did my brother Keith. The band director at the time was David Harris; he was a trumpetplayer. Also my mother had been to Clark School. Milton Batiste had beenat Clark with myfather; they were in thefirst class. Iplayed the usual high school stuff. Marching in Mardi Grasparades, football games, stuff like that. Wewouldplay regular military marchesfor the mostpart.At that time, I wasplajing trombone. Then, at Clark, thej started to run out of tuba players. During the eighties,there weren't somanyjoungpeople taking it up. I was really small and skinny, and I decided tostartplaying tuba. Everybody thought I wasjoking! But I knew I couldpick it uppretty good. I took a tuba homeandpracticed every day.I usedto sleep with it: my mother thought I was crazy. I was also the band captain of the school band. Wehad this bandparent booster club. One of theparents asked me toget a brassband togetherto come andplay at a function. I got a group of guys together:Kermit Ruffins (because he was in the band with me); Reginald Steward, the tromboneplayer, who's now with the New Birth Brass Band; Cheryl McKay on clarinet—she nowplays with a reggae band; and Dimitri Smith, old 108 Smitty D, on tuba; and Iflayed trombone. Wepracticed, got somematerial together, and did afunction at the SheratonHotel on Canal Street. Wewerestill sixteen and seventeen years old, and they were serving alcoholicbeverages.That meant that after we played, we had to leave. I had seen Keith Andersonplaying with the Young Men Brass Band, and they were hustling in the French Quarter every day for tips. So I had the idea to do the same—it was only about ten o'clock at night. Dimitri Smith was in the union, so he couldn't go down there. I said, "OK,give me the tuba." I went down there with the rest of the guys, and weput a box downfor tips. We made some money, and everybody wanted to do the same thing the next day. Everybody slept at my house, and we went back to the Quarter the next day. This was the summer of ip8]—it wasjust somethinggood to do. We had listened to the Preservation HallJazz Band and the Olympia Brass Band on records. That's where wegot ourfirst musicfrom. Tunes like "The Saints" and "Second Line." Wejust happened to be in the rightplace at the right time, as things happened. We wereplaying in the French Quarter,and then wegot ourfirstpaying gig,playing for the Zulu Club at theirpicnic. The tunes came out sounding different from the Olympia, but that wasjust a natural thing. By us all comingfrom a high school band, we werepowerful. That was when the rap and hip-hop thing started, around the same time as we did. We heard those things on the radio, and we wanted to incorporate them into our repertoire.It worked real well, because we were theyoungest band in the city, apart from the Young Men, but they had started breaking up. So nobody else was doing it. The Dirty Dozen is one of myfavorite bands. Onenight, my stepfather (he was in a second line club) drove me up to Second and Saratoga andparked outside theGlasshouse. We could hear the Dirty Dozen through the door. That was in the late seventies, and it made me want toget into brass bands. I first heard themplay again at my cousin's funeral , and that's thefirst time I heard themplay "Blackbird Special." I can remember it like it wasyesterday—it was on Dumaine and North Robertson. I had never heard anything like that before in my...


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