3

Swingadelic: Toussaintville

Dan Bilawsky By

Sign in to view read count
Swingadelic: Toussaintville It's tempting to say that the great Allen Toussaint is a musical phoenix who rose out of the ashes of a Katrina-ravaged New Orleans, but that's not really true. Toussaint wasn't reborn when his city was in ruins; people just started to wake up and take notice of him again in the wake of that tragedy. Participation in benefit concerts, a well-publicized collaboration with Elvis CostelloThe River In Reverse (Verve Forecast, 2006)—and a Joe Henry-produced jazz album—The Bright Mississippi (Nonesuch, 2009)—featuring clarinetist Don Byron, trumpet Nicholas Payton, guitarist Marc Ribot and other heavyweights put him back in the spotlight where he belongs.

Toussaint's importance may be lost on many who don't dig deep into the credits in liner notes, but his role in shaping the New Orleans sound in the latter half of the twentieth century can't be overstated. His Midas-like touch bestowed musical riches upon Dr. John, The Meters, Lee Dorsey and countless others. He came to epitomize the earthy, funky, raw-yet-refined sound that came out of the Crescent City in the '60s, '70s and beyond, but his music moved far beyond the city limits. Everybody from Little Feat to Devo has covered his work, paying tribute to Toussaint in some small way, and now, Swingadelic gives him an album-length nod with Toussaintville.

This little big band made a big splash with a salute to the music of oft-overlooked pianist Duke PearsonThe Other Duke (Zoho Music, 2011)—and they turn their attention to an ivory tickler of a different sort here. A fifteen song program finds the band delving into Toussaint songs both well-known and obscure with mixed results; the Pearson book fit them like a tailored suit, but Toussaint's far more diverse catalog proves harder to squeeze into.

Toussaintville doesn't discriminate when it comes to instrumentals and vocal numbers, which is a good idea in theory when paying tribute to this particular figure, but too much of the vocal weight is placed on the shoulders of pianist John Bauers; he's a firm and focused presence on the 88s, but his vocals don't always fit the surroundings they inhabit. The strongest vocal performances come from Queen Esther ("Ruler Of My Heart") and Rob Paparozzi ("Fairchild"), who both deserve more space.

Swingadelic tends to do better on the instrumental side of the equation, causing a fun ruckus on "Java," finding the right groove on "Get Out Of My Life, Woman," and turning up the heat on "Everything I Do Gonna Be Funky." They even manage to strip "Whipped Cream" of its hackneyed elements, giving it a down-south-on-a-riverboat quality. Another winner is the little known "Up The Creek," which comfortably sways in the rhythmic breeze; these songs capture Swingadelic capturing Toussaint better than the rest.

Track Listing: Night People; Southern Nights; What Do You Want The Girl To Do; Yes We Can Can; On Your Way Down; Java; Ruler Of My Heart; Get Out Of My Life, Woman; Sneaking Sally Through The Alley; Everything I Do Gonna Be Funky; Working In A Coalmine; Whipped Cream; Fairchild; Up The Creek; Mr. Toussaint.

Personnel: Audrey Welber: alto saxophone, clarinet; Paul Carlon: tenor saxophone (5, 7, 8, 10, 14), soprano saxophone; Jeff Hackworth: tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone (5, 7, 8, 10, 14), John DiSanto: baritone saxophone; Albert Leusink: trumpet; Carlos Francis: trumpet; Rob Susman: trombone; Rob Edwards: trombone; Neal Pawley: trombone, vocals (5); Boo Reiners: guitar; John Bauers: piano, organ, vocals (1-3, 9, 11, 15); Dave Post: bass; Jason Pharr: drums; Jimmy Coleman: drums (5, 7, 8, 10, 14); Queen Esther: vocals (7); Rob Paparozzi: vocals (13).

Title: Toussaintville | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Zoho Music


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Developing Story CD/LP/Track Review Developing Story
by Edward Blanco
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Lantern CD/LP/Track Review Lantern
by John Kelman
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Inspirations (featuring Matthew Halsall) CD/LP/Track Review Inspirations (featuring Matthew Halsall)
by Phil Barnes
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Unification CD/LP/Track Review Unification
by Troy Dostert
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Crossing CD/LP/Track Review Crossing
by Geno Thackara
Published: June 25, 2017
Read Unit[e] CD/LP/Track Review Unit[e]
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 25, 2017
Read "Live InTokyo" CD/LP/Track Review Live InTokyo
by Mark Corroto
Published: July 12, 2016
Read "New Focus On Song" CD/LP/Track Review New Focus On Song
by Roger Farbey
Published: July 23, 2016
Read "New Affirmation" CD/LP/Track Review New Affirmation
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: February 6, 2017
Read "Starer" CD/LP/Track Review Starer
by Glenn Astarita
Published: July 26, 2016
Read "Unfolding In Tempo" CD/LP/Track Review Unfolding In Tempo
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: October 6, 2016
Read "Speechless" CD/LP/Track Review Speechless
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 27, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.