Kermit Ruffins stays true to his New Orleans roots

  • Kermit-Ruffins

    A promotional photo of Kermit Ruffins taken in his hometown New Orleans.


  • A promotional photo of Kermit Ruffins taken in his hometown New Orleans.
    A promotional photo of Kermit Ruffins taken in his hometown New Orleans.


    Kermit Ruffins (Basin Street Records)

    With all due respect to Wynton Marsalis, an iconic jazz trumpeter known worldwide for his New Orleans roots, he's just about as much Big Apple as he is Big Easy these days.

    Not so with the highly talented Kermit Ruffins, who embodies the role of traditional New Orleans trumpeter with as much verve and street-level style as anyone, especially in this post-Katrina era. Ruffin's comfort with his native New Orleans, a city where he has opted to party, play music, and eat barbecue instead of go out on the road and seek what many believe would be inevitable national fame, even became a classic scene in the hit HBO series, Treme, in which he co-stars.

    "We Partyin' Traditional Style!", released Tuesday, is a veritable house party of early 20th century traditional and New Orleans jazz classics, some reinvented and all dripping with authenticity. Ruffins uses his raspy vocals to do a fine rendition of a standard from one of his biggest inspirations, Louis Armstrong, on "When It's Sleepy Time Down South."

    When you visit New Orleans and want to leave with one or two albums that really seem to capture the city's musical history but also don't sound too old, remember this disc.



    John Fogerty (Vanguard)

    For certain Boomers, listening to the songs on John Fogerty's "Wrote a Song For Everyone" will be like reacquainting with old friends, their wisdom and vitality still exhilarating after all these years. For post-Boomers, the album can serve as an introduction to the kind of meaty, foursquare guitar rock that has largely disappeared from the pop charts.

    "Wrote a Song" is a Fogerty tribute album that comes with the artist's seal of approval. In fact, he sings on every cut, making it a duets album, too.

    Fogerty, who turns 68 on Tuesday, recruited an array of younger artists to help resurrect some of his biggest hits, and the results rock. Highlights include a thunderous performance of "Fortunate Son" featuring the Foo Fighters and Fogerty sound-alike Dave Grohl; the 1997 obscurity "Hot Rod Heart," with Brad Paisley revving up his guitar; and a rollicking "Proud Mary," reclaimed from marching band songbooks everywhere by Jennifer Hudson, Allen Toussaint and the Rebirth Brass Band.

    Fogerty remains a mighty singer, and shows he hasn't lost his knack as a songwriter either. Two new tunes fit right in, which is impressive given such distinguished company.

    — Associated Press


    Tricky (Life or Death)

    It’s been tricky being Tricky. The British DJ/producer, born Adrian Thaws, made a grand entrance in 1995 with “Maxinequaye,” his Mercury Prize-winning debut album that mixed dub, hip-hop, and electronica into a dense sound that made other trip-hop acts of the day sound like child’s play. His next few records were more than serviceable, but eventually the paranoia that always coursed through his music overwhelmed it, and after a while, Tricky was a forgotten man.

    He’s back in form, however, on “False Idols.” In place of one-time vocal foil Martina Topley-Bird is lovely-voiced 24-year-old Brit Francesca Belmonte, and other tracks feature guest contributions from Peter Silberman of the Antlers and Nigerian songstress Nneka.

    The opener, “Somebody’s Sins,” references Van Morrison and Patti Smith, and “Valentine” reshapes “My Funny Valentine” for its own moody ends. In both of those cases and throughout “False Idols,” Tricky wisely resists the temptation to undercut the songs’ simple hooks.

    It wouldn’t be a Tricky album without a touch of the dystopian, but “False Idols” benefits greatly from letting a little light in along with the darkness.

    —Philadelphia Inquirer