✓ in stock
01 March 2019
On May 5, 2017 an all-star roster of Basin Street Records recording artists came together to celebrate the kickoff of BSR’s 20th anniversary at the historic jazz venue, the Little Gem Saloon. The evening included performances on two stages from Jason Marsalis, Kermit Ruffins, Irvin Mayfield, Bill Summers, Dr. Michael White, and Davell Crawford. The entire evening was recorded, and choice selections from each set comprise the album Live at Little Gem Saloon: Basin Street Records Celebrates 20 Years.
Following the progression of the evening, the album opens with the original modern jazz stylings of the drummer-phenom turned vibraphone-master, Jason Marsalis, here performing his original compositions “Bourbon Street Ain’t Mardi Gras” and “At The House in Da Pocket” to a packed room with an electric energy. During Marsalis’s set a “prayer line” formed outside the Poydras street club for those hopeful attendees waiting to get a spot to see the star-studded lineup in the full-capacity club.
The next set features an outstanding double-trumpet duo from two of the biggest trumpet-giants in the city. Kermit Ruffins and Irvin Mayfield joined each other on stage with the backing of Kermit Ruffins’ band, The Barbecue Swingers, for two Kermit-approved standards: the classic “On The Sunny Side of the Street” and the rambunctious and fun “Skokiaan.”
Next on the lineup was to be pianist Henry Butler (who has since passed away; may his soul rest in peace) in a solo performance, but a flight delay made his appearance impossible. What does one do when a featured artist can’t make it to your post-Jazz Fest show? With so many world class musicians in the building at one time, you ask them to do what they do best: improvise. In no time, Basin Street president, Mark Samuels organized an impromptu Basin Street Records super-group featuring Davell Crawford on piano and vocals, Irvin Mayfield on trumpet & percussion, Jason Marsalis on drums, Bill Summers on percussion, Mark Brooks on bass, and Ronald Markham on piano. This group would bring the trio of Irvin Mayfield, Bill Summers, and Jason Marsalis (the founding members of Los Hombres Calientes) together on stage for the first time in over 15 years and give us a sizzling rendition of “Autumn Leaves.”
Continuing the evening was traditional jazz clarinetist, Dr. Michael White, who captivated the audience with his outstanding polish and skill on the immortal “Summertime” and White’s own energetic “Give It Up / Gypsy Second Line” featuring Marsalis again on drums.
Davell Crawford, the “Piano Prince of New Orleans” closed out the night performing his unique brand of Louisiana roots music with his band One Foot in the Blues. Here we hear an R&B rendition of “Big Boss Man” and Crawford’s own emotive medley “Don’t Ever Be Blue / Ode to Louisiana.”
It was an unprecedented evening in New Orleans music. Never before has Basin Street Records released a project featuring all new music from so many different artists. Live at Little Gem Saloon captures the spirit of a truly special evening of live music. For 20 years, Basin Street Records has provided a home for these outstanding artists to flourish, and they gave back in the best way possible with the performances captured on this album.
“And We Live!”
From playing himself in the HBO Series Treme, to barbecuing outside his bar, Kermit’s Treme Mother-in-Law Lounge, to sitting in with Jon Batiste and Stay Human on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, the trumpeter/vocalist keeps himself busy when he isn’t on stage doing what he does best—entertaining and sharing his love of life with the world. Ruffins continues making his imprint on the world with wider exposure including appearances on Bravo’s Top Chef and on the soundtrack to Disney’s Jungle Book with Bill Murray and Christopher Walken. He personifies the laid-back vibe of New Orleans.
But he did not come by his gifts easily. Ruffins did his homework and developed his stage persona and musical act by studying artists who came before him. He watched videos of Louis Armstrong and Cab Calloway until the tape wore out, cut his teeth busking the streets of the French Quarter, and apprenticed on stages with local legends “Uncle” Lionel Batiste and Danny Barker.
Consider his lengthy musical career. While still in high school, he co-founded the Rebirth Brass Band – a group that revolutionized the brass band community in New Orleans with songs like “Do Watcha Wanna” that have become anthems. Rebirth’s growth and success bolstered the rejuvenation of the New Orleans second-line culture that now flourishes.
Still, after less than a decade fronting the band and touring the world, Ruffins tired of the road. He missed the culture at home so much that he traveled, like fellow New Orleans icon Fats Domino, with cooking equipment and prepared his favorite foods in hotel rooms far and wide.
He made a bold and risky decision to leave Rebirth and go solo, having no guarantees the public would embrace his new direction. At the time there were very few young musicians playing traditional jazz. Nearly all the backing musicians on his first album were decades older.
Now, Kermit Ruffins and the Barbecue Swingers are a beloved institution – a must-see for every New Orleans visitor and a favorite of local critics and music lovers. As he’d helped spur the formation of new brass bands in his 20s, he’s since influenced the city’s musical direction in the 21st century. Dozens of young musicians and bands are essentially playing the same music Ruffins pioneered with his solo act. They sing into retro microphones, dress in dandy suits and perform the timeless tunes that defined a decades-past era.
Yet Ruffins has not been content to remain musically static. His live show has included elements of hip-hop since his days with Rebirth. He began rapping on albums long before it was commonplace for jazz musicians to have hip-hop influences.
It’s not the first time he’s taken musical chances. He had a short-lived progressive jazz band that experimented with arrangements of songs from the 1970s. His 2009 album, Livin’ A Tremé Life, included a version of Johnny Nash’s monster 1972 hit “I Can See Clearly Now.” It also had songs reflecting Ruffins’ deep roots in the R&B of the Crescent City, like Allen Toussaint’s “Holy Cow.”
In the ’90s, Ruffins fronted a big band with arrangements from great maestro Wardell Quezergue. He stocked the band with superior local musicians and the performances were on par with great bands of the ’40s, updated to reflect Ruffins’ effervescent personality. His 2010 release, Happy Talk, revisited that territory with a full horn section and sumptuous arrangements of tunes like “If I Only Had a Brain” (from The Wizard of Oz) and the Louis Armstrong hit “La Vie En Rose.”
With over fifteen albums to his credit including live albums capturing his inimitable stage presence (1998’s The Barbecue Swingers Live and 2005’s Live at Vaughan’s), a collaboration with his Rebirth Brass Band brethren (2005’s Throwback), a holiday album (Have A Crazy Cool Christmas ), an homage to New Orleans’ traditional jazz (We Partyin’ Traditional Style! ), and the party-anthem packed #imsoneworleans (2015) the New Orleans trumpeter shows no signs of slowing down.
Every year Ruffins ebullient attitude and love of his hometown music firms his reputation as the New Orleans idol. Dedicated to preserving and passing on the tradition of jazz, he is often compared to his own hero, Louis Armstrong.
On his likeness to “Satch” Kermit says, “That’s someone who really, really led one of America’s true art forms. He was really the cherry on top of New Orleans music. And now I see it being passed on to younger kids, and for me to have a role in that and to maybe do the things he did is so spiritual to me.”
Whether he’s slinging barbecue, adding to his collection of fedoras, or playing at one of his regular weekly shows, Kermit Ruffins does it with joy and passion, an example of what it means to be a true New Orleanian.
A Grammy and Billboard Award-winning producer, composer, trumpet player, and author.
Mayfield’s credits include over 30 records, collaborations with Frank Ocean, Lenny Kravitz, George Clinton, Wyclef Jean, Bob Weir, Ani DiFranco, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Haley Reinhart, Wynton Marsalis, Dr. John, Ernest Gaines, and Gordon Parks.
His most recent musical project is a trio called Cirque Du Freak in which he and partners, Ronald Markham and John Díaz-Cortés, play a variety of synthesizers, drum machines, and the occasional trumpet over electronic beats.
His career started in Latin music as a cofounder of the celebrated group, Los Hombres Calientes with veteran percussionist Bill Summers in 1998. Since then, Mayfield has been named the Jazz Artist in Residence at the Apollo Theater in 2014, Artistic Director of Jazz from 2009 to 2014 at the Minnesota Orchestra, and Founder and Artistic Director of the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra from 2002 to 2016.
Mayfield’s catalogue includes live recordings at the prestigious Blue Note Jazz Club, the Village Vanguard, and most recently a live recording at the Newport Jazz Festival. Domestically, Mayfield has headlined all major performing arts centers including Carnegie Hall and has twice performed at the White House for presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
Internationally, Mayfield has headlined major Jazz festivals from North Sea in Europe to the Sydney Jazz Festival in Australia and has toured extensively throughout four continents.
Mayfield has authored two coffee table books, A Love Letter to New Orleans and New Orleans Jazz Playhouse, and has received an honorary doctorate from Dillard University. Mayfield was nominated by President George W. Bush and appointed by President Barrack Obama to the National Council on the Arts. He was also nominated for an NAACP Image Award for his recording with Dee Dee Bridgewater.