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Keith Frazier, Bass Drum BORN: New Orleans, October 3,1968 Founding member of the Rebirth BrassBand Interviewed at 3611 Burgundy Street, November zooz / came into music by watching my brother Philip playing when I was in elementary school. It seemed something that wasfun to do, so I wanted to do it too. He wasplaying trombone in the James Lewis Elementary School. When Igot to be his age, I wanted toget in thejunior high school marching band. I wasplaying snare drum at the time, but they said I was toosmall toplay drums, so they switched me to baritonehorn. I carried on with the baritone horn all the way up to college. I wasjustplaying drums on the side, really, until the Rebirth officially formed. I had started snare drum by playing around the house: my brotherPhilip used to bring theseguys round toplay in thegarage, so I said, "I guess I'llplay drums." So when I got to school, that was myfirst choice. Drums had been a long-term hobby, but when the Rebirth started, they needed someone toplay drums. I said, "OK, I'llgive it a shot." It worked! The Rebirth's been a great experience—traveling the world,playing for all kinds of importantpeople, taking us toplaces we never thought it would. It wasjust a hobby, something to do during the course of the summer; it's turned into afull timejob. We've played for George [Herbert Walker] Bush when he came downfor the National Republican Convention, when he was president. The bass drum's the most important thing in the band. We always say, "If the bass is not knocking, the band is not rocking." So the bassdrum has to be doing what it's doing. Somepeople don't understand that; they don't see it, they don't evenknow what it is. You can havepeople dancingjust to the bass drum. It takes a little time to develop an understanding with a snare drummer; myself and the Rebirth's current snare drummer have been working togetherfor over tenyears now—that's Ajay Mallery. He took a three-year hiatus from the band, and we used dif112 ferentguys. But with Ajay, we really don't talk, wejust play. Ourfirst snare drummer was "Eyes" [Kenneth Austin]. He and I workedtogether for quite sometime. He was one of thefirst people toplay with the snare off all the time, kind of gives the drum a timbale sound. He wasjust trying something different—like whenyou're a kid,you're always experimenting. We werereal close friends—we knew each other from high school. Ourfamilies knew each other, and even when we weren'tplaying music, he used to hang out at our houseall the time.It's important toget onwellwith the otherguy. If you hatethe snaredrummer, it's notgoing to come off. Even ifyou're notfriends, jou try not to have any conflict with them. When I first startedplaying the bass drum, I would listen to Mr. BennyJones. He was with the Dirty Dozen at the time. The album they had out was "Feet Don't Fail Me Now." I would listen to it all the time. I kind of picked up on a lot of what he wasdoing. He wasplaying more of a straight beat—one, two, three, four. That was the style, but it was different from what the traditional drummers were doing. It was modern, it was cool. I liked it. I don't know if the otherguys in the band did, and I kind of picked up on it. I listened to the guysfrom the Chosen Few Brass Band. They werefrom uptown. They were one of the funkiest brass bands around. The first time I heard them was in the French Quarter. I justpicked up on it, and added my thing. What I try to do is like continuous bass drum—there's always a beat, always a sound comingfrom the bass drum. There wouldn't be a lot of spaces. With traditional bassdrums, there's a lot of syncopation, and soyou get a lot of spaces. What I was trying to do was not have any spaces, like with a heartbeat that doesn 't stop. If you keep thatgoing, thefeel for the dancersdancing off the bass drum will always begoing. It's kind of like the Rebirth style—it's always moving. Like in high school marching band music, the bass drum is marking the tempo, so it's like a one,two, three,four beat, never syncopated. Wetry and keep...


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