New Orleans is one of the greatest cultural conglomerations on the face of the earth. From the remains of past conquerors like Spain and France, to leftovers from the thousands of international expatriates who gather for the Crescent City’s festivals and endless parties, it remains a gumbo within the American melting pot.
On his latest CD, Nawlins horn man Kermit Ruffins dips in a big ladle and comes up with a tasty menu of multi-ethnic flavors that range from his own roots in jazz to tinges of reggae to rock. From the opening Dixieland theme song "Tiger Rag" and the easy-going swing of "Basin Street Blues," to such second liners as "When I Die" and the butt-shaking "Palm Court Strut," it is evident that Ruffins has his hometown well in hand when he lays it on his horn. Through the musical march of the subtly but noticeably rearranged "On the Sunny Side of the Street" and the Latin spice of "The World is a Ghetto," Ruffins also shows other sides of his jazz repertoire; a mode he escapes with the Wyclef-ian jam "One Life." Along the way, Ruffins also returns to his childhood with the juvenile family affair "Breakfast Lunch and Dinner" and then to one of his personal favorites with a second mix of "Skokian" that closes the album with all the energy and flavor of the broadly talented performer and the wonderfully diverse city he calls home.
Track Listing: 1. Tiger Rag
3. When I Die (You Better Second Line)
4. Wake Up Neesie
5. Palm Court Strut
7. On the Sunny Side of the Street
8. Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
9. Big Easy
10. World Is a Ghetto
11. Basin Street Blues
12. One Life
13. Skokiaan [Remix]
I've always loved jazz ...my mother was a classical pianist and my aunt was a blues singer, who was managed by Clarence Williams (Bessie Smith's producer). As a young boy, they introduced me to people like Louis Armstrong, Sarah Vaughan, and Jimmy Smith
I've always loved jazz ...my mother was a classical pianist and my aunt was a blues singer, who was managed by Clarence Williams (Bessie Smith's producer). As a young boy, they introduced me to people like Louis Armstrong, Sarah Vaughan, and Jimmy Smith. We hung out at my Aunt Kate's Soul Food restaurant in Harlem after the matinees at the Apollo where I listened to their stories. I knew I wanted to be a jazz musician from then on. My mother wanted me to play piano, but my Aunt bought me a guitar. I've been playing ever since.
At my mother's early prompting, I first sang Blue Velvet at my Catholic elementary school...and all the nuns came running in and asked me to sing again, so I knew I must have sounded pretty good. I've been singing ever since.
I met Tony Bennett in Miami and he inspired me to return to New York. He was a great mentor.
The best show I ever attended is mpossible to say, I've seen so many great shows. From Tony Bennett to Pat Martino, Return to Forever to Weather Report...I've seen some great performances.
My advice to new listeners is don't let jazz intimidate you, the music has something for every listener and it is our American gift to the world.