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Allen Toussaint, et al. / Amadee Castenell (NYNO Records: Allen Toussaint and Various Artists

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Bon Ton NYNO. Contemporary Louisiana music is alive and well and being projected by the New York-based label NYNO Records. NYNO was founded in 1995, the brainchild of radio syndicator Josh Feigenbaum and pianist, composer, arranger, producer par excellence Allen Toussaint. The stated goal of the label is... “to record and distribute the roots and blues-oriented music of New Orleans...painting a musical portrait of the city.” Considered here are the sampler A Taste of New Orleans and the specific artist Amadee Castenell’s second effort for the label, Sax Dreams.

Toussaint. Every song on both discs has the unmistakable stamp of the redoubtable Mr. Toussaint. Transparent engineering and production, a crack musical sense, and that unmistakable piano. Toussaint has been a fixture not only in the NO scene but internationally since the 1950s. He has composed many songs covered by other artists (“Southern Nights”—Glen Campbell and “Yes We Can Can”—the Pointer Sisters) and has arranged the music for several others (Paul Simon’s Kodachrome and The Band’s seminal Rock of Ages ). Here, he is most apparent on his own material as well as the harder blues (“Whoever’s Thrilling You”, “If You Want Me to Leave”). His influence shows up in grand style on James Andrew’s “New Love Thing” and Oliver Morgan’s “All About You”.

Amadee. Amadee Castenell has been a fixture in Toussaint’s various bands for the past 20 years. His second disc Sax Dreams, a follow-up to his self-titled debut is a groovin’ contemporary jazz delight. His tenor is drenched with R&B sauce cut with mint. At once he plays with a pronounced vibrato (check out the ballad “Would You be My Sweetie”) and a full-throated wail (“Night Vision”). He is funky on “Raggedy Funk” and his band is crack (Scott Goudeau smokes throughout, but especially on “I wouldn’t Mind)”. Toussaint himself turns in a super solo on “If I”.

Down on Dauphine in Y2K. There is little wrong with this music. It is well performed and produced. It grooves so hard it should have internal injuries warning. But purists, I must warn you, this is not Rockin’Dopsie or Clifton Cheniér. If this is what you seek, then go to the source. But for those of you who want to hear contemporary music that has exposed to the spirit of Professor Longhair like boudin to smoke in the smokehouse, this music is for you.

Track Listing (A Taste of New Orleans):We’re All Connected (Allen Toussaint); got Me A New Love Thing (James Andrews); Jesus is the Baddest Man in Town (Raymond Myles); Music All Around (Cool Riddims and Sista Teedy); Always There for You (Amadee Castenell); Back Rub (Larry Hamilton); I’ll Go With You (Grace Darling); Whoever’s Thrilling You (is Killing Me) (Wallace Johnson); Smoke That Fire (New Birth Brass Band); If You Want Me to Leave (Paul “Li’l Buck” Sinegal); It’s All About You (Oliver Morgan); Sweet Dreams (Allen Toussaint featuring Tricia Boutté)(Total Playing Time 47:09).

Personnel (A Taste of New Orleans):Various Artists.

Track Listing (Sax Dreams):Night Vision, I Wouldn’t Mind, If I, Would You Like to Be My Sweetie, Raggedy Funk, Catch Me, No Clue Fish, Mojo Mama, Mumbo Gumbo (Total Playing Time 47:45).

Personnel (Sax Dreams):Amadee Castenell: Tenor Saxophone; Allen Toussaint: Piano and Synthesizer; Larry Seiberth: Keyboards; Scott Goudeau: Guitar; Chris Severin: Bass; Herman Jackson: Drums; Bernard Johnson: Drums; Sean Tauzier: Guitar.

Style: Fringes of Jazz


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