Kermit Ruffins

We Partyin' Traditional Style

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Trumpeter and vocalist Kermit Ruffins has become a kind of goodwill ambassador for post-Katrina New Orleans, largely through his role in the HBO television show Treme, which is set there, and Ruffins is perfect for the post, packing his albums and live shows with 20th century traditional New Orleans jazz and second-line material, but doing it with a fresh and contemporary kind of jive and spin that combines what was in the Crescent City with what will be, creating a sound that is both reverent and joyous, and ultimately redemptive and healing. Oh, and he has a great band behind him, too, which includes Shannon Powell (drums), Steve Pistorius (piano), Richard Moten (bass), Don Vappie (banjo), Lucien Barbarin (trombone), and Tom Fischer (clarinet) on We Partyin' Traditional Style, his latest album from Basin Street Records. Produced by Tracey Freeman, the album follows the template set by Ruffins' earlier albums, featuring classic New Orleans tunes like "When the Saints Go Marching In" given a new coat of paint; a reverential cover of a Louis Armstrong (Ruffins' main influence, both as a player and as a singer) tune; "When It's Sleepy Time Down South"; fun second-line pieces like "Treme Second Line," and in what might be the biggest surprise here, a poignant version of the traditional ballad "Careless Love." It all adds up to a fun and varied album, with Ruffins doing pretty much what he does at his regular shows at New Orleans’ Bullet’s Sports Bar and with his recurring role on Treme, preserving and freshly annotating the unique music of New Orleans, making everything into a joyous party in the process.

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