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Livin' a Tremé Life

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Album Review

Kermit Ruffins is one of the prime reasons why New Orleans is mending post-Katrina, bringing his good-time music to the people as an entertainer. As a trumpet player and singer of heritage jazz, soul, and popular music, he's uplifting the spirit of Crescent City dwellers who are slowly but surely rebuilding their neighborhoods. This CD further defines that role, as he brings traditional swing and shuffle rhythms, a bit of funk, and standardized Mardi Gras-style music to the table — predictable, reliable, and charming. Where Ruffins goes beyond this repertoire is a question to be answered later, but for now he stays in the pocket from his previous recordings without wavering. It's good to hear him do a funky version of reggae star Johnny Nash's hit "I Can See Clearly Now" with the Bonerama horn section, tacking a typical New Orleans strut onto "Hi-Heel Sneakers," decently covering the Isley Brothers soul/R&B tune "For the Love of You," and making his best effort playing Horace Silver's "Song for My Father," although it shows imperfections. Shuffle rhythms prevail in traditional fashion during the self-centered "I Ate Up the Apple Tree" and "I Got Mine," both closest to the tradition established by Louis Armstrong, who Ruffins so desperately would like to be as he sings about "living on chicken and wine" during the latter track. Allen Toussaint's "Holy Cow" is classic New Orleans rhythm & blues, done well but not exceptionally, and "Didn't He Ramble?" runs parallel to the vintage jazz tradition in fine style. The greatest strength of this recording lies in the backup band, with the extraordinary pianist and Fender Rhodes veteran David Torkanowsky making sterling contributions throughout. Drummer Herlin Riley and bassist George Porter, Jr. also add exponentially to the musical backdrop, as do members of the Rebirth Brass Band on "For the Love of You" and the delightful light swinger "Good Morning New Orleans," one of four originals written by Ruffins. While his trumpet playing is standard fare, the music is tinged with a happy/sad feeling, glad to be alive and even thriving in tough times, but clearly tempered by the passing of his father, Lloyd Hampton Ruffins. It's another good, pleasing recording of many by the talented jazzman. ~ Michael G. Nastos, Rovi


Born: 1964 in New Orleans, LA

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '90s, '00s

New Orleans-based trumpeter, bandleader, singer, and songwriter Kermit Ruffins is an ever-inventive musician who projects a warmth from the stage. He's got charisma, so as a consequence, he and his bandmates in the Barbecue Swingers are not in danger of overexposing themselves in their native Crescent City. Ruffins, born in 1964 in New Orleans, reminds many people of a sort of modern-day Louis Armstrong, though he's far from becoming the international ambassador of goodwill that Armstrong eventually...
Full Bio
Livin' a Tremé Life, Kermit Ruffins
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  • $18.99
  • Genres: Jazz, Music, Dixieland
  • Released: 28 April 2009

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