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Allen Toussaint: Connected

Jim Santella By

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With roots in both Gospel and Ragtime, New Orleans singer-pianist Allen Toussaint has assembled an enjoyable session that appeals to a broad audience. From an outsider's point-of-view, Toussaint's ensemble shares that "Crescent City mystique" espoused by Dr. John, The Neville Brothers, The Dirty Dozen & New Birth Brass Bands, and others. While this session combines folk, funk, calypso and rock into one entity, Toussaint's compositions each contain some amount of blues feeling and imagery.

Updating blues double-entendre, Toussaint begins "Computer Lady" with:

"I met this lady while surfing online,I believe she is a lady,She created that image in my mind."

And continues with the chorus, which goes:

"Computer LadyMake my nightDrive me crazy with your megabyte.

I don't know if you're real.But until I do,Keep my modem hot, Computer Baby.Keep my modem hot, Computer Lady."

While this album is a singer's session, four of the tracks are instrumental numbers: "Get Out of My Life, Woman," "Funky Bars," "All of It" and "Rolling With The Punches." Sammy Berfect adds organ to "Funky Bars," combining with the powerful rhythm section, filling horns, and background vocals to create an image suitable for loud urban nightlife. "If I Leave," on the other hand, uses similar instrumentation in support of Toussaint's crooning baritone voice; it's a beautiful song of love and caring. When the leader sings in the higher registers, such as on "In Your Love," the effect is a radical change in direction toward pop music and superficial saxophone dreams.

Trumpeter Dave Bartholomew is featured on "Oh My." The New Orleans atmosphere is captured through use of loose snares on the drum, rollicking piano bass lines, quaint vocal lyrics, baritone saxophone fills, and the brassy trumpet. Electric guitarist Scott Goudeau steps forward on "Wrong Number" to present a different mood, while Toussaint sings a blues lament for the disappointed lover. Highly rhythmic, "We're All Connected" contains a message of hopes that tomorrow will bring better attitudes with regard to man's inhumanity toward his fellow man. The loose vocal style, New Orleans shuffle-step drumming, loping piano and supportive electric bass make the session quite enjoyable.

Personnel:

Collective Dave Bartholomew, Stacy Cole, Jamil Sharif: trumpet; Edward Reed, Brian Cayolle: baritone sax; Fred Kemp, Amadee Castenell: tenor sax; Gary Brown: alto sax and tenor sax; Allen Toussaint: piano, Fender Rhodes, synthesizer, vocals; Sammy Berfect: organ; J.R. Branch: synthesizer; Scott Goudea, Leo Nocentelli: guitar; Chris Severin, Roland Guerin: bass; Bernard "Bunchy" Johnson, Russell Batiste, Herman Lebeaux: drums; Bill Summers, Clarence "Reginald" Toussaint: percussion; Tricia Boutte, Suzanne Bonseigneur, Ed Roussell, Tomika Goffner, Tanya Elllsworth, Terri De Gruy: background vocals.

Title: Connected | Year Released: 1998 | Record Label: NYNO

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