Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Kermit Ruffins = New Orleans

Yesterday I was chatting with a friend and I mentioned that I had been listening to a lot of jazz lately. Lo and behold, later in the day I found out that April is Jazz Appreciation Month, which somehow subconsciously, must have been influencing my musical leanings this month!

And what better way to start my celebration (albeit somewhat belated) than in what could arguably be the birth place of the genre: New Orleans. Of all the musical metropolises in our country, New Orleans has produced what I think to be the most distinctive music. Regardless of whether you're a music fan or not, when one hears some lines of New Orleans' jazz, you know where it comes from. You don't even have to be able to describe it, it's simply New Orleans.

Not only can New Orleans boast to be the melting pot where the most American of genres was born, it was also home of the world ambassador of jazz, Louis Armstrong, simply an American icon. It's also home to a more contemporary trumpet player, Kermit Ruffins, who although not quite so worldly, is still 100% New Orleans. Although not raised on jazz, he was irresistibly drawn to it, and with the help of some other New Orleans' musicians formed the Rebirth Brass Band back in 1982. The band kept alive the city's traditional music while simultaneously embracing other genres like soul, funk, and hip hop.

In 1992, Kermit set off on his own, forming a backing band, the Barbecue Swingers, to help him play more traditional New Orleans fare. Since then he's become a staple in the city's music scene (for those of you who've seen the New Orleans episode of the VH1 Soul series Soul Cities, he was featured) and has even opened up his own restaurant, Sidney's Saloon. On top of his famous barbecue sauce, he'll be releasing his newest album, Livin' a Treme Life, on the 28th, which features some exquisite trumpet playing that'll take you to straight to the album's namesake New Orleans neighborhood. Below you'll find two cuts from it: the first, I Ate Up the Apple Tree, sports a more traditional feel, while Treme Mardi Gras (the album's closer), shows that Kermit isn't afraid to infuse the music with what's happening in the city now, with Baby Jaye laying down some rhymes hip hop style over his horns (removed upon request) Holy Cow, a playful New Orleans flavored tune.

and an older one:

Visit his label Basin Street Records and become his friend on MySpace.


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