Monday, April 27, 2009

Allen Toussaint’s jazz album

I’ve got a review of Allen Toussaint’s The Bright Mississippi up today in Blurt, interview to come later.

Here’s a bit:

In The Bright Mississippi, New Orleans R&B composer and pianist Allen Toussaint revisits the classic jazz of his childhood, interpreting wonderful old-time cuts by Sidney Bechet, Jelly Roll Morton, Thelonious Monk and Duke Ellington. Though Toussaint's band for this album includes avant garde heavyweights like Don Byron and Marc Ribot, the tone is quite traditional, the steady swagger of funeral march drums and percussion anchoring arabesque swoons and swoops of melodic improvisation. Toussaint himself conjures lush, extravagant textures of ragtime piano, his playing now staccato and rhythmic, now flowering into rolls and cascades and fluid runs of notes. And the rhythm section - David Piltch on upright and Jay Bellerose on drums - imposes a stately, restrained dignity over the whole enterprise, with widely spaced thump of bass, clicks on rims and musing, dreamy swirls of brushes on snares.


Here is Mr. Toussaint with one of my other favorite singer songwriters -- Elvis Costello – performing “Fortune Teller”

Toussaint was heading to the New Orleans Jazz Festival when I spoke to him, but was also looking forward to a series of concerts at New York City’s Vanguard, where he’ll have the whole band from The Bright Mississippi. Should be pretty great.

In other news, I went to see Pains of Being Pure at Heart and Ponytail last night…and loved both, though in entirely different ways. (Pains for the songs…Ponytail for skill, enthusiasm and transcendently complicated grooves.) More on this later...

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