Kerwin James played tuba, composed, and arranged tunes for the New Birth Brass Band. His two older brothers, Keith and Philip Frazier, founded the Rebirth Brass Band. Kerwin was perhaps best known for his brass band arrangement of New Orleans rapper Kilo’s “Who Dat Called the Police?” and for composing and “A.P. Tureaud” (named after a street named after the celebrated civil rights attorney). Both songs feature signature tuba riffs and have been played extensively by other bands.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Kerwin suffered a stroke while in Houston and fell into a coma. Rebirth held a benefit concert at Tipitina’s nightclub in November 2006, where Philip gave a heartfelt speech about his younger brother and fellow tuba player.
Watch Philip’s speech about his brother Kerwin.
Following Kerwin’s death in September 2007, family and friends played a “warm-up” parade for him in the Treme neighborhood, resulting in a noise complaint and the arrests of musicians Derrick Tabb and Glen David Andrews. Days later, a traditional jazz funeral left the Christian Mission Baptist Church (where Kerwin’s mother was the organist) and proceeded right by the spot where the musicians had been arrested.
The banner photo on each page of this website is taken from Kerwin Jame’s jazz funeral.