Trumpeter Kenneth Hagans combines New Orleans traditional jazz chestnuts, spirituals, a couple of classic New Orleans rhythm and blues numbers and, perhaps surprisingly, hits from the Beatles songbook on New Orleans Trumpet. As the title suggests, Hagans’ horn is out front on the album that includes the strong rhythmic pairing of drummer Shannon Powell and sousaphonist Kirk Joseph, plus British-born, New Orleans resident keyboardist John Richardson. Stepping in for five of the 11 selections is the noted clarinetist Sammy Rimington who also hails from the United Kingdom.
The most spirited cuts are those that pair the trumpet and clarinet that gives the group a fuller sound. The lively “Ice Cream (You Scream),” a novelty number from 1927 that made its way into the traditional jazz repertoire, takes advantage of having the always solid Powell and Joseph lay down the beat. The trumpet and clarinet each take credible solos before the two horns “dance” together. Towards the end Powell lets loose on the drums.
The Beatles’ “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” receives a classic New Orleans rhythmic sway as Hagans’ trumpet “sings” the lyrics and Rimington’s clarinet weaves between his notes.
New Orleans Trumpet stands as a sampler of sorts that demonstrates Hagans’ diversity, though in doing so doesn’t really break new ground or find a common theme.