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Review: Ruffins' 'Happy Talk' is infectious

Review: Ruffins' 'Happy Talk' is infectious

Kermit Ruffins, "Happy Talk" (Basin Street Records)

October 26th, 2010 by By KAREN HAWKINS in News

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."