May 1st, 2015

Ruffins

Title: #imsoneworleans

Artist: Kermit Ruffins & the Barbecue Swingers

Label: Basin Street Records

Formats: CD, MP3

Release date: April 21, 2015

 

Legendary New Orleans trumpeter, singer, and composer Kermit Ruffins has returned with a new album instilled with pride and love for his hometown. The Barbecue Swingers, Ruffins’ regular backing band, join him in the studio for the first time in over a decade on #imsoneworleans. The album features nine tracks, a combination of both covers and original songs that convey a sense of liveliness and unrestricted fun.

The first song and title track, “I’m So New Orleans,” has a carefree feel and is filled with numerous references to NOLA musicians and places. He embeds a bit of humor into the lyrics as well, singing “I’m so New Orleans I love Professor Longhair / For hip-hop stuff  I really don’t care.” As the album shows time and time again, Ruffins isn’t afraid to take his time on each piece. The five and a half minute song effortlessly drifts into an instrumental section and features a trumpet solo by Ruffins before the vocals pick up again at the end.

Ruffins’ mastery of the trumpet is shown off again in “Tipitina,” a song originally performed by Professor Longhair. Smooth jazz piano and percussion contrast with Ruffins’ growly voice and bright trumpet solo. Another inspired cover is the New Orleans classic, “Jock-a-Mo (Iko Iko).” It is one of the most fun songs on the album, with Latin-inspired beats and a quick tempo.

“Put Your Right Foot Forward” is an original by Ruffins that has a unique country twang, showing the musical diversity he both encounters and plays around New Orleans. Talking about the New Orleans party scene, Ruffins taps into his youthful side with the chorus, “We turnin’ up this party.” The song ends with an instrumental section that showcases impressive musical talent, featuring a rocking keyboard solo and Ruffins’ soaring trumpet.

Aside from bringing New Orleans legends and parties to life, Ruffins also features some special guests whom are very close to him. Phoenix-based singer Nayo Jones has often joined Ruffins in concert and is featured in his cover of Etta James’ “At Last.” This six minute version of the classic song includes a piano solo by Yushitaka Tsuji.

One of Ruffins’ five children, Kaylin Orleans Ruffins, is featured in a duet with her father on “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Though she is only in third grade, this “Pint Size Songstress” fearlessly belts out the high notes, while Kermit only sings a short verse, letting Kaylin take the lead on the rest.

The closing track, “I’m So New Orleans, Part 2” is a six minute spoken word piece accompanied by slow and sultry jazz. Ruffins recounts parts of his life and his connection to New Orleans, but near the end he also thanks everyone who participated in the album, including the listeners. This really encapsulates what #imsoneworleans is all about: Ruffins embodying his connections to New Orleans in a manner that goes beyond mere city or place to encompass both a lifestyle and a community.

Reviewed by Anna Polovick

Review Genre(s): Jazz


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