The Rebirth Brass Band to bring its NOLA sound to NYS Blues Fest

Russ Tarby 07/10/08More articles

Trumpeter Glen Andrews, who performs in Syracuse this weekend as a member of the Rebirth Brass Band, hails from one of New Orleans’ many musical families.
Andrews’ dad was a drummer and several of his cousins are well-known working musicians in and around the Crescent City.
His relatives include trumpeter James Andrews, known as the Satchmo of the Ghetto, who sings lead for the New Birth Brass Band.
Another of Glen’s cousins is 22-year-old phenom Troy Andrews, billed as Trombone Shorty, who doubles on trumpet. Another relative, Glen David Andrews, also plays both trombone and trumpet while leading a traditional jazz band called the Lazy Six. And yet another distant cousin is Little Rascals leader Terrence Andrews.

Saturday & Sunday gigs
Glen Andrews himself has emerged as a linchpin of the Rebirth Brass Band, which will play two free shows in Syracuse Saturday and Sunday July 12 and 13.
Rebirth will perform at the 2008 New York State Blues Festival, at 7 p.m. Sunday July 13, on the Budweiser Main Stage in downtown Syracuse’s Clinton Square. All blues fest concerts are free. For festival info, call the Events Company at 422-9400, or visit nysbluesfest.com.
The Rebirth will also play a nightclub date at 11 p.m. Saturday, July 12, at the Empire Brewing Co., 120 Walton St., in Syracuse’s historic Armory Square. No cover charge will be levied; 475-BEER.

‘The band to beat’
Formed in 1983, the band graduated from the streets of New Orleans to play theaters and festivals all over the world. But as the old saying goes, you can take the musician out of the street but you can’t take the street out of the musician. So there’s a fair amount of funk in the Rebirth sound. The band is committed to the brass band tradition while incorporating modern music into its performances.
In reference to the heated competition that often exists between brass bands, Offbeat magazine remarked in 2001 that “It’s clear that Rebirth, which boasts 10 albums and has traveled the world, is the band to beat.”
Rebirth routinely combines traditional New Orleans brass band devices, such as the second line, with funk, jazz and soul influences. The group is considered second only to the Dirty Dozen Brass Band among contemporary brass bands of New Orleans.

Silver anniversary disc
The band’s most recent disc is its silver anniversary recording, 25. You can see, as well as hear, the combo on two DVDs, From the Big Apple to the Big Easy recorded in 2005 at Madison Square Garden, and Never a Dull Moment, a 20th anniversary video.
Another CD, Throwback, was recorded in 2005 with trumpeter Kermit Ruffins, who was a member of Rebirth from 1983 to 1992. Its tracks include evergreens such as “Just a Closer Walk with Thee” and recent compositions like “Up in tha Hood.” Previous discs also blend the old with the new, from “When the Saints Go Marching In” to “Feel Like Funkin’ it Up.”
Several trad-standards, such as “I Found a New Baby,” “Kidd Jordan’s Second Line” and “Tin Roof Blues” dot the Rebirth repertoire, which also include New Orleans Mardi Gras favorites such as “Big Chief” and “Carnival Time.”

Festival favorites
Over the past 25 years, Rebirth has performed at such prestigious places as the Montreux Jazz Festival, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, the North Sea Jazz Festival and the PBS-TV show, Austin City Limits. The band has headlined the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco, the House of Blues in Boston and virtually every venue in New Orleans including the Maple Leaf, where the group hosts a regular Tuesday-night Uptown revue.
Rebirth was featured in a nightclub scene in the 2005 Kate Hudson film, Skeleton Key.
The band includes tuba player and founder Philip Frazier, trumpeters Glen Andrews and Derrick “Kabuky” Shezbie, trombonists Stafford “Freaky Pete” Agee and Corey Henry, saxophonists Vincent Broussard and Byron “Flee” Bernard, bass drummer Keith Frazier and snare drummer Derrick “Big Sexy” Tabb.
Check out the band at Rebirthbrassband.com.

Long time players:
Bandleader Frazier
Philip Frazier, 42, founded the Rebirth Brass Band in 1983 while attending the legendary musical incubator of Joseph S. Clark Sr. High School, located in the heart of New Orleans.
Frazier, the band’s tuba player and leader, traces his brass band roots to his upbringing in the Tremé neighboorhood of New Orleans where, as a kid, he was surrounded by the rich tradition of Mardi Gras Indians and the annual parades of Social Aid and Pleasure Clubs. His Sousa-funk sound on the tuba is the life force of Rebirth.

Trumpeter Andrews
Next to Phil and bass drummer Keith Frazier, Glen Andrews has had the longest tenure in Rebirth.
Andrews, 34, started playing drums as a child, but converted to trumpet when his mother bought him one when he was 10 years old. His father was a drummer and a handful of his cousins, including trumpeter James Andrews and Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews, are prominent musicians in and around New Orleans. Glen Andrews’ style of trumpet playing has led many reviewers to call him a modern-day Miles Davis with a taste of New Orleans. According to the Rebirth Web site, “Andrews’ tone adds a deliciously sinister edge to the band’s sound.”
Glen’s nickname is “The General,” he says, “because I make sure everyone gets their part right.”

TAGS: Blues, New Orleans, Brass Band, Syracuse Festivals
EDITION: The Eagle

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