Kermit Ruffins' flamboyant showmanship doesn't let up on his third Basin Street release, named for the street address of Jazz and Blues Hall, the trumpeter's own New Orleans club. On his horn, Ruffins likes to channel Louis Armstrong, but his singing voice is actually far closer to Dizzy Gillespie's. (Check out his unhinged scat chorus on the blues "Keep Walkin'.") His funny, deliberately old-fashioned brand of jazz harks back to the prewar era, when musicians viewed themselves as entertainers rather than unapproachable artists. Listening to these tracks, one can practically taste the often bawdy ambiance of New Orleans. Speaking of taste, Ruffins includes in the liners a detailed recipe for rabbit ("Lapin de Kermit"), underscoring his culinary skills, which he considers closely related to his musical skills. Look to Ruffins to show you a good time, not to stretch the boundaries of jazz as we know it -- although the post-bop piano of David Tornakowsky does contrast nicely with the vintage sounds of Dr. Michael White's clarinet and Detroit Brooks' banjo.
1533 St. Philip Street Review
by David R. Adler