New Orleans-based trumpeter, bandleader, singer and songwriter Kermit Ruffins loves swinging Jazz. The 44-year-old New Orleans native lives it, plays it and sings about it and nowhere is it more evident than when he discusses the swinging, good-time jazz that lured him in as a teenager and continues to whet his appetite even three decades and 10 solo recordings later. “From the time I wake up in the morning, I’m itching for my next show to happen. It can’t get here fast enough for me. I think that’s the basic ingredient of New Orleans music.” Until he puts his trumpet to his mouth, he said, he has no idea what he’ll play on any given night. But through years of performing in New Orleans and other places, he’s learned to be a careful reader of his audience. The ever-inventive musician projects a warmth from the stage.
Kermit began playing trumpet as a young teenager, but didn’t discover the possibilities of jazz and blues until he first heard Louis Armstrong when he was 19. With several of his fellow students from high school, Ruffins started the now legendary Rebirth Brass Band. In 1992, he founded the Barbecue Swingers, a traditional jazz quintet that mixes music with another of his true loves, food. And now, hundreds of shows and barbecues later, prolonging the status of jazz in New Orleans is among Ruffins pet projects.
And Kermit is also in the movies, like the recently released “Jungle Book.” He sings a duet and plays trumpet with Bill Murray on “The Bare Necessities” and he accompanies Christopher Walken on trumpet on “I Wan’na Be Like You” in the new Disney classic.