438

Allen Toussaint: The Bright Mississippi

Mike Perciaccante By

Sign in to view read count
Allen Toussaint: The Bright Mississippi When asked about Allen Toussaint, Van Dyke Parks once said, "he's the greatest pianist alive, only no one knows it... including him." High praise from one legend to another. With The Bright Mississippi, Toussaint has finally released a jazz-oriented album. Though jazz-influences can be found on many of his rock/funk sides as well as in many of the songs that he has written (including "Whipped Cream," which was morphed into the theme from The Dating Game), arranged and produced, this album, a salute to the timeless music of his hometown of New Orleans is his first foray into jazz. Though he'd never recorded any of them, as a native New Orleanian, Toussaint was well-acquainted with the songs and music that has made The Big Easy synonymous with the phrase "The Birthplace of Jazz."

On The Bright Mississippi, Toussaint re-imagines ("covers" is not the proper descriptive word) classic jazz pieces originally made famous by Jelly Roll Morton ("Winin' Boy Blues"), Sidney Bechet ("Egyptian Fantasy"), Louis Armstrong (the Joseph "King" Oliver-composed "West End Blues"), Duke Ellington ("Day Dream" and "Solitude"), Django Reinhardt ("Blue Drag"), Thelonious Monk (the title track) and many others. Additionally, the CD features Toussaint's versions of the traditional songs "St. James Infirmary" and "Just A Closer Walk With Thee."

Almost entirely instrumental, the CD has the feel, vibe and cadence that only an Allen Toussaint project has. Toussaint, with producer Joe Henry, has crafted a sound that is modern yet traditional, jazzy yet funky, soulful yet pristine and completely elegant. The players chosen by Toussaint and Henry (Nicholas Payton on trumpet, David Pilch on upright bass, Don Byron on clarinet, Marc Ribot on guitar and Jay Bellerose behind the drums) make the recording come alive with a warmth and texture that is usually only heard in live performances.

The Bright Mississippi is a rich and multi-layered CD. Each track deftly mines the musical milieu of what many just categorize as New Orleans music. While the title track has a very funky and somewhat bluesy and soulful 'Nawlins feel, "St. James Infirmary" has a little bit of a country feel under the traditional jazz arrangement. "Singin' The Blues" could easily be heard at Preservation Hall. Each of the twelve tracks, when taken on its own merits, is a lesson in the musical history and expression of the Delta.

To paraphrase producer Henry, the CD is loaded with performances of classic songs that sound both completely fresh and entirely familiar.


Track Listing: Egyptian Fantasy; Dear Old Southland; St. James Infirmary; Singin' the Blues; Winin' Boy; West End Blues; Blue Drag; Just a Closer Walk with Thee; Bright Mississippi; Day Dream; Long, Long Journey; Solitude.

Personnel: Allen Toussaint: piano, vocals; Marc Ribot: acoustic guitar; Don Byron: clarinet; Nicholas Payton: trumpet; David Piltch: upright bass; Jay Bellerose; drums, percussion; Brad Mehldau; piano; Joshua Redman: tenor sax.

Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Nonesuch Records | Style: Funk/Groove


Shop

More Articles

Read Transparent Water CD/LP/Track Review Transparent Water
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 20, 2017
Read Billows Of Blue CD/LP/Track Review Billows Of Blue
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 20, 2017
Read Love Dance CD/LP/Track Review Love Dance
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 20, 2017
Read Honest Woman CD/LP/Track Review Honest Woman
by James Nadal
Published: February 20, 2017
Read June CD/LP/Track Review June
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 19, 2017
Read The Final Concert CD/LP/Track Review The Final Concert
by John Sharpe
Published: February 19, 2017
Read "Ballast" CD/LP/Track Review Ballast
by Dave Wayne
Published: June 6, 2016
Read "Warp" CD/LP/Track Review Warp
by Karl Ackermann
Published: March 21, 2016
Read "Siren Songs" CD/LP/Track Review Siren Songs
by James Nadal
Published: April 24, 2016
Read "I Walk Amongst Humans" CD/LP/Track Review I Walk Amongst Humans
by Nicholas F. Mondello
Published: August 3, 2016
Read "Agartha" CD/LP/Track Review Agartha
by Roger Farbey
Published: August 14, 2016
Read "Fellow Creatures" CD/LP/Track Review Fellow Creatures
by Roger Farbey
Published: June 25, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!