Kermit Ruffins & Irvin Mayfield

Kermit Ruffins & Irvin Mayfield

Kermit Ruffins & Irvin Mayfield

A Beautiful World

Basin Street

A Beautiful World finds two of New Orleans best known trumpeters joining forces to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Basin Street Records. The two trumpeters have had an ongoing mock rivalry going on for years. The two players represent the range of jazz both in New Orleans and the world at large. Irvin Mayfield leads the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, a big band that represents the jazz as classical music end of the jazz spectrum. When you see Mayfield’s group play, they’re probably going to be dressed in formal attire and reading off charts. By contrast, Kermit personifies the street party end of the jazz spectrum. Kermit came up with brass bands of the second line parades and the locals-only clubs like Vaughn’s in the Treme. A Beautiful World visits those extremes and points in between.

Actually, A Beautiful World is a little like a radio play episode of Treme. Actor Wendell Pierce pops up from time to time with interludes. It helps give the album the feel of club-hopping around New Orleans. “Good Life” featuring vocals by Baily Flores is a slick, club friendly track. “Allen Toussaint” features Cyril Neville paying tribute to the late composer, producer and songwriter who influenced generations of musicians. The title track, “Beautiful World” features vocalist Haley Reinhart and a string quartet. The tune evokes memories of the Louis Armstrong classic while at the same time moving the music forward. In a similar way, “Trumpet Bounce” and “Lexine” pay homage to the cities underground hip hop scene.

Happy Birthday, Basin Street Records. Thanks for throwing this party to remind those of us who don’t live in the Crescent City just how deep the musical mojo flows. Here’s hoping you’re still putting out local tunes in another 20 years.

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