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Kermit Ruffins: Kermit Ruffins (2005)

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Kermit Ruffins: Kermit Ruffins How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Featuring six tracks from Kermit Ruffins' out-of-print Justice releases, this compilation comes just in time for Mardi Gras. It's a celebration of trad jazz and everything else that has made New Orleans so special. All that's missing is the crawdads and gumbo. That, we'll have to find on our own.

Ruffins turned forty last year. His youthful voice and expressive trumpet remind you that the Crescent City isn't a place for stressing out. Forget the urban crawl and any deadlines that have been haunting you lately. By singing our favorite songs, playing traditional jazz trumpet with authority, teaming with a hot trombonist and mellow tenor saxophonist, Ruffins reminds us that Buddy Bolden, King Oliver and Louis Armstrong never really left. They're still with us in the music that keeps coming back all year 'round—if you know where to look for it.

Working with sextets that include the services of trombonist Corey Henry, tenor saxophonist Eric Traub, bassist Neal Caine, drummer Jerry Anderson, and pianist David Torkanowsky, Ruffins has achieved a balance of tradition and swinging adventure. The music seems new, fresh and quite alive when he interprets songs such as "Monday Night in New Orleans," "After You've Gone," and "On the Sunny Side of the Street."

Doreen Ketchens rips off a powerful clarinet solo on "When My Dream Boat Comes Home." Dwight Fitch strolls with a lovely blues piano solo on "Leshianne." Pianist Ellis Marsalis, bassist Walter Payton, and drummer Shannon Powell provide an earthy foundation for Lucien Barbarin's hot trombone solo on "Kermit's Second Line." Included in the arrangement are traditional solos by Marsalis, banjo player Danny Barker, tuba player Anthony Lacen and, of course, Ruffins.

Throughout the compilation, Ruffins rolls out trumpet solos and vocal melodies with ease. His natural, laid back demeanor makes his performances swing gently and often. You can feel the spirits gathering to congratulate the man and to offer additional assistance, as the New Year brings promise of more great music ahead.

Track Listing: Ain't Misbehavin'; Monday Night in New Orleans; On the Sunny Side of the Street; After You've Gone; Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams; Goodnight; Leshianne; When My Dream Boat Comes Home; Kermit's Second Line; Bye and Bye; Do the Fat Tuesday.

Personnel: Kermit Ruffins, trumpet, vocals; other instrumentalists.

Record Label: Putumayo World Music

Style: Dixieland/New Orleans/Swing


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