February 28, 2012

The Grammy Winning Rebirth Brass Band!

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Rebirth of New Orleans</em></a> is the 2012 Grammy Winner for Best Regional Roots Album! Special thanks to Basin Street Records, Tracy Freeman, Chris Finney, and Howlin' Wolf Management!

Rebirth of New Orleans is the 2012 Grammy Winner for Best Regional Roots Album! Special thanks to Basin Street Records, Tracy Freeman, Chris Finney, and Howlin’ Wolf Management!

ReBirth tuba man and co-leader Phil Frazier says he hasn’t really thought about just where he’ll display the coveted Grammy Award that the band won for its 2011 album ReBirth of New Orleans. “I’ll probably wear it around my neck like a chain,” the exuberant Frazier exclaims. The stars seemed to line up for the ReBirth Brass Band’s 15th release.
Once considered the young, upstarts on the streets of New Orleans, the ReBirth now boasts 28 years on the scene. Through that time, its members have gained greater musical dexterity, honed their skills as composers and perfected the marriage of funky street beats with refined musicality. In other words, ReBirth was ready. The CD, released on the local Basin Street Records label, won the honor in the newly created Best Regional Roots Album division, a category that well-suited ReBirth’s difficult to pigeonhole style.
ReBirth of New Orleans also benefited from the wisdom of seasoned engineer and producer Tracey Freeman, a previous Grammy winner who knows his way around New Orleans’ musical eclecticism. “We were all jumping up and down,” says Frazier describing the scene backstage at the pre-telecast show when it was announced that ReBirth had won. “My dream came true. I had that dream for a long time – since I was 20-something years old. When we started getting good, I said this {music} could probably win a Grammy. Meanwhile, Basin Street Records owner Mark Samuels and his wife were in the front row. “I had my iPhone running when they said, ‘And the Grammy goes to…’ and you can hear me screaming, particularly loud. It was thrilling.”

For years, the ReBirth Brass Band would be hired to welcome visitors on their arrival at the New Orleans airport. This time, the tables were turned. Trumpeter Kermit Ruffins, the Baby Boyz and Kinfolk brass bands plus others gathered at the airport’s luggage area to great the victors.

“I never thought we’d have a band waiting for us,” Frazier exclaims. “It was a big surprise, a big surprise!”

The happy moment was captured on video as trumpeter Derek Shezbie put down some mean second line steps while using his suitcase as a partner. The smiles all around couldn’t have been bigger.

Frazier realizes the significance of Rebirth winning the Grammy award to young, upcoming musicians like those in the Baby Boyz and Kinfolk.

“ReBirth achieved our goal, so you can reach your goal,” he offers. “Keep playing, never stop. It’s not about bands battling each other, it’s about playing music because you love it. We love it so much and we’re from the streets and the streets took us to a Grammy. It’s a big accomplishment for us.

Naturally, calls came pouring in from all over the country with folks eager to congratulate the band. “There were a lot of numbers in the phone,” says Frazier mentioning a few notables who got through such as actor Ed Anderson and vocalists Erykah Badu and Ani DiFranco. The celebration continued on Tuesday night when the ReBirth performed its first, post-Grammy winning live show at the Maple Leaf. In honor of the occasion, the street in front of the uptown club was closed down to accommodate ReBirth’s ecstatic fans. “It was phenomenal,” Frazier declares of the night.

This was also the first Grammy for Basin Street Records, which did enjoy a nomination once before for Los Hombres Caliente’s release, New Congo Square.

“Now we will always be able to refer to ourselves as a Grammy-winning record label,” says Samuels proudly. “And similarly, the band will always be Grammy winners. It takes a lot of people to win a Grammy award and it starts with the ReBirth Brass Band working their butts off for the last 28 years.

“We put our heart and soul into this album,” says Frazier in moment of calm before bursting back into sheer exuberance. “I’m glad to bring a Grammy – like the Super Bowl – back home to New Orleans. I’m so happy, I’m so happy.”
Dave Bartholomew Honored

Dave Bartholomew, New Orleans legendary trumpeter, composer, producer and bandleader was honored by the Recording Academy with a special Grammy Trustees Award. It is given to those who have made a significant contribution to the field of recording in a non-performing capacity. Previous honorees include such luminaries as Duke Ellington and Motown’s Berry Gordy.

His sons, Ron and Don Bartho­lo­mew accepted the award for their father, who, Ron explained was fine but had a little knee trouble.

Ron relays his father’s response to receiving the accolade saying, “The first thing he said was it was the greatest news in the world for him and his family to be recognized. Because when you become 90-plus years old versus being 30 or 40, it’s that much more special. Often when you’re older in age you’re often forgotten about. To be remembered at 91 years old is a blessing.”

Bartholomew was a creator of the New Orleans rhythm and blues sound of the late 1940s and 1950 that evolved into rock ‘n roll. He’s most noted for his collaboration with Fats Domino that led to a string of classic hits like “Blue Monday” and “Ain’t That a Shame” and many, many more. The ReBirth Brass Band tapped into Bartholomew’s treasure chest by including his Latin-flavored “Shrimp & Gumbo” on its Grammy-winning CD, ReBirth of New Orleans. Bartholomew’s music is core to New Orleans and remains vital.

This article originally published in the February 20, 2012 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.