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Allen Toussaint: Connected

Robert Spencer By

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Allen Toussaint is back. Let the world know. Connected is his first full-length national release in nearly twenty years, and it is a full resume of the New Orleans institution's many talents. His funky R&B piano is the centerpiece of this disc, which features a host of New Orleans luminaries including Dave Bartholomew on trumpet, Leo Nocentelli on guitar, Russell Batiste on drums, and Amadee Castenell on tenor. In addition to these guest appearances, the tracks feature a cast of thousands – but it is all Toussaint, spinning out New Orleans funk in grand fashion.

After kicking off the disc on piano on "Pure Uncut Love" and "Do the Do," Toussaint switches to an aptly-deployed Fender Rhodes for "Computer Lady." Highlights of the disc: the deep blues of "Get Out of My Life, Woman," featuring trademark chunky unison horns and his insinuating blues piano, and "Sweet Dreams," a sparkling ballad featuring Tricia Boutté on additional vocals. "Funky Bars" consists of a lot of them. Any funk fan will not go away unhappy from this track, or from the disc in general: "All of It" is both the name of a particularly funky track and the answer to the question, "How much of this disc has soul?" Toussaint plays well with contrasts: from the high register superfunky beginning to "Ahya", to the rumbling yearning of "If I Leave." He even dips into the Caribbean on "Aign Nyee."

All in all, a solid return from Toussaint, and, one hopes, the forerunner of many more yet to come.

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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