Kermit Ruffins has many reasons to put on a pearly white smile. Here’s one: He’s got a new album titled Happy Talk, and the album’s cover art well depicts his charming ear-to-ear grin. To quote the man himself, he hopes that the tunes “put a bounce in your step and a smile on your face.” With spirited, spiced-up rhythms, it’s safe to say that the trumpeter has accomplished that with this collection.

The gifted musician, alongside a talented team of instrumentalists, has given the songs a refined New Orleans spark. From the very start, with the instrumental track “Panama,” Ruffins takes listeners on a short voyage south of the border. In just a little over five minutes, you’ve stepped into a time warp, felt the grains of sand while you sat down on a plastic beach, tasted the salty humidity and arrived back at square one. “La Vie en Rose” is for lovers. It’s a passionate, lyrical tune that makes dancing cheek-to-cheek suitable for any occasion. “High Hopes,” on the other hand, will get you to don a loosened bow tie, a fedora and tap shoes à la Sammy Davis Jr. during his career in vaudeville.

Grade: A



Happy Talk is currently available.