Basin Street Records
Not to give props to us music critics, but when artists write their own liner notes the results can come off as vague, obtuse or just plain hyperbolic. In his notes for Throwback, trumpeter Kermit Ruffins takes four pages to explain how he and tuba man Philip Frazier founded the Rebirth Jazz Band when both were still in high school. He throws in plenty of exclamation points, and he writes like he talks: "They kept tipping and we was trippin!" Then again, taking the N'awlins drawl and vernacular out of Ruffins would take with it the excitement that he conveys both in print and on disc.
The reunion of the RBB with its original trumpet man-who left to get off the road and explore a solo career-explodes with the enthusiasm of a backyard barbecue, with everyone digging into the funk and singing along. Many of the songs are built on blues riffs or vamps, and when these guys start blowing it's hard to sit passively during a hard-hitting groove like "Make Way for the Rebirth" or Dr. John's "Mardi Gras Day."