Review: Ruffins’ ’Happy Talk’ is infectious

Kermit Ruffins, “Happy Talk” (Basin Street Records)

Go ahead, just try and listen to New Orleans trumpeter Kermit Ruffins’ latest release without moving — no foot tapping, finger snapping or head nodding. A plate of red beans and rice says you can’t do it.

“Happy Talk” cheerfully marches, swings and bops listeners through classic covers and original tunes, led all the way by Ruffins’ distinctively brassy bravado.

It’s the first release for the co-founder of the Rebirth Brass Band since his appearance on the HBO series “Treme,” and he gives a nod to the neighborhood of the same name with the swingy and sometimes silly “I Got a Treme Woman.”

“If I Only Had a Brain” gets a smartly Latin-infused treatment, Ruffins seems to channel Louis Armstrong with the appropriately sweet “Sugar,” and even the sometimes mournful “La Vie En Rose” gets an upbeat makeover with vocals from Ruffins.

Rapid-fire percussion and piano lend a dancy urgency to “Shine” and a full-bodied brass section helps make “More Today Than Yesterday” deliver.

Twangy electric guitar gives a bluesy feel to “New Orleans (My Home Town),” a last track that’s equal parts love song and lovers’ stroll.

During a musical era when Auto-Tune seems to reign, Ruffins offers a refreshing return to a simpler time of raw vocals, in-your-face instrumentation and clever composition.

CHECK OUT THIS TRACK: Listeners looking to be transported directly to Bourbon Street without paying any baggage fees need look no further than the album’s first song, the rollicking ragtime tune “Panama.”

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