Kermit Ruffins – Happy Talk

January 01, 1970

(Basin Street)



Look, there are a lot of cats in New
Orleans, young and old, who can play the flavorful
jazz-foink gumbo of the parish. But not a lot of them can cook, literally and
figuratively with skills toward the musical and the culinary. Trumpeter, singer
and chef Kermit Ruffins can and does.


The 46 year old and his longtime ensemble the Barbecue Swingers
do Crescent City proud, finding themselves via HBO’s Treme on par with the worldly renown of Louie Armstrong and his
small group who went on to film #High
# with Bing, Frank and Grace Kelly. (There’s some Kid Ory and Jelly
Roll Morton in the shuffling sound as well.) Ruffins makes a friendly brand of
music that’s willing to announce itself loudly as well as stay on the
intimately conversational -even parochial – tip. His hit “When I Die, You
Better Second Line,” is a great example of his brand of local colorful
colloquialism. On his new CD, Ruffins works his self-penned blues (“New Orleans
My Home Town”) and funk “I Got a Treme’ Woman”) like a rib along with smoking
the likes of old brassy standards (“Hey Look Me Over”) and swinging
pop numbers (“More Today Than Yesterday”).


While I’m fond of the manner in which Ruffins and Co. rough
up the French Creole sweetness of “La Vie En Rose” a tad, I’m a sucker for
anyone who plays from #The Wizard of Oz#
soundtrack; his Latin infused grooves and arrangement on his cover of “If
I Only Had a Brain” is simply the bee’s knees – way original, way sweet
and down right tear jerking.


Only Had a Brain,” “I Got a Treme’ Woman,” “Hey Look at Me” A.D. AMOROSI

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