With the ebullient new We Partyin’ Traditional Style!
(Basin Street), New Orleans trumpeter and singer Kermit Ruffins
makes a pretty good argument for traditional jazz’s ongoing role as a lingua franca in the Crescent City—the old-school ways seem to stay in circulation there (as they also do in, say, Brazil or Cuba), instead of getting tossed out by the latest pop revolution. Ruffins came up in the 80s with the street-minded Rebirth Brass Band
, but since going solo in the early 90s he’s poured much of his energy into reimagining standards made popular by Louis Armstrong. The new album employs a classic sound—banjo, clarinet, trombone, and trumpet, in multilinear cascades over a conventional rhythm section—but the production and drumming style give it a pleasantly modern muscle and energy. Ripping versions of the likes of “Chinatown, My Chinatown” and “Jeepers Creepers” underline Pops’s pop instincts, but they’ve got so much verve and personality that no one would mistake them for the work of musty revivalists. On this visit Ruffins leads a quintet: pianist Yoshitaka Tsuji, drummer Derrick Freeman, bassist Kevin Morris, and singer Nayo Jones. —Peter Margasak Kermit Ruffins also plays at SPACE on Fri 7/26.