Live at Vaughan's
New Orleans trumpeter Kermit Ruffins performing his Thursday night gig at Vaughan's down in Bywater – just a stone's throw from the Industrial Canal that separates the lower and upper Ninth Ward neighborhoods – is the stuff of local legend. His live release from one of those gigs, featuring loads of special guests, captures some of the magic of the place, which is basically a neighborhood dive bar come to life with sweating fans from all over the city and, during Jazz Fest, the world. They come to be crammed in alongside one another, often against Ruffins himself, as he alternates between his swinging trumpet playing and a raspy vocal that feels snugly placed between two very different Louises, Armstrong and Prima.
Here, Ruffins favorites such as "Skokiaan," "Palm Court Strut," "Treme Second Line" and "Hide the Reefer" (Kermit's nothing if not honest) stretch out into laid-back reworkings. Guests including Roderick Paulin (saxophone) and Ruffins' daughter Neshia add even more flavor to an already sweet and salty (and maybe even a little sticky) evening. 3 stars