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Jazz - Released June 10, 2016 | Nonesuch

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Indispensable JAZZ NEWS
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Jazz - Released June 13, 2006 | Rhino - Warner Records

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Jazz - Released June 13, 2006 | Rhino - Warner Records

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Jazz - Released January 27, 2009 | Nonesuch

Booklet
The Bright Mississippi stands alone among Allen Toussaint albums. Technically, it is not his first jazz album, for in 2005 he released Going Places on the small CD Baby-distributed Captivating Recording Technologies, a label run by his son Reginald, but for most intents and purposes -- and for most listeners -- The Bright Mississippi might as well be his first foray into jazz, since it's the first to get a major-label production and release as it's a de facto sequel to Toussaint's successful, high-profile, 2006 duet album with Elvis Costello, The River in Reverse. Like that record, The Bright Mississippi is produced by Joe Henry, who has a knack for a sound that's clean yet soulful, one that lets the music breathe but still has heft to it. Henry teams Toussaint with a cast of heavy hitters -- including clarinetist Don Byron, trumpeter Nicholas Payton, guitarist Marc Ribot and, on a track a piece, pianist Brad Mehldau and saxophonist Joshua Redman -- to support the pianist on a run through jazz standards ranging from Duke Ellington and Django Reinhardt to Louis Armstrong and Thelonious Monk, whose 1963 classic provides the album its title. Everybody has a little bit where they shine, but this is thoroughly Toussaint's showcase, a place where he can ease back and string together New Orleans jazz and R&B in his own elegant fashion. And what impresses most about Bright Mississippi is that although straight-out jazz is uncommon in Toussaint's work, this neither feels unfamiliar or like a stretch. His signature runs and smooth grooves can be heard throughout the album, but the relaxed nature of the sessions makes it easier than ever to hear what an idiosyncratic, inventive instrumentalist he is, and that is a quality that's more evident upon repeated plays. Upon the first listen, The Bright Mississippi merely seems like a joyous good time, but subsequent spins focus attention on just how rich and multi-layered this wonderful music is. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Rock - Released April 19, 2005 | Rhino - Warner Records

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R&B - Released September 23, 2013 | New Rounder

Booklet
Allen Toussaint experienced a late-career revival sparked, ironically enough, by the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. He had to leave his hometown New Orleans after the hurricane, relocating to New York City where he started to play regular gigs at Joe's Pub and, soon enough, he cut The River in Reverse with Elvis Costello. That 2006 album propelled Toussaint toward a greater audience, leading to more headlining concerts, two of which are chronicled on Rounder's 2013 release Songbook. Recorded in 2009 at Joe's Pub, Songbook features nothing more than Toussaint alone at a piano running through songs he's written over the decades. He sprinkles in a New Orleans standard here and there -- there's an excellent rendition of "St. James Infirmary" -- but the spotlight is on his peerless originals, songs that are standards in their own right: "Lipstick Traces (On a Cigarette)," "Holy Cow," "Get Out of My Life, Woman," "Yes We Can," a medley of "A Certain Girl/Mother-in-Law/Fortune Teller," "Southern Nights." Toussaint's voice sounds smooth and silky -- he in no way seems as if he's in his seventies -- and his piano is similarly nimble as it glides from signature New Orleans stride and boogie to sophisticated, elegiac chords. Perhaps this album packs no revelations -- there are no rearrangements, nothing unexpected in the songs -- but as an elegant summation of strengths, this Songbook is mighty attractive. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Blues - Released May 12, 2016 | Jasmine Records

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Jazz - Released November 1, 2005 | Rhino - Warner Records

Allen Toussaint's contribution to New Orleans R&B is indelible and his presence can be felt throughout classic recordings from the late '50s, '60s, and beyond. His name, though, is the province of connoisseurs, those who peruse album jackets looking for who wrote that great song or wrote out that phenomenal arrangement. Many who know his name may not even know that he was a solo recording artist, partially because his discography is a little confusing, as he cut for little New Orleans record labels, then signed with Reprise, before returning to sporadic waxings for indies. Of all the albums and compilations that have poured onto the market, the best, by far, is Reprise's The Allen Toussaint Collection, even if it spotlights just a small portion of his career -- namely, his '70s recordings for Reprise. True, this doesn't have all the great songs he's written, or records he's made, but it does provide an irresistible, comprehensive overview of his best albums. These aren't nearly as gritty as any of his productions of the '60s, lacking the earthiness of, say, Lee Dorsey or the down-and-dirty grind of the Meters. Instead, it's elegant, sexy music -- witness how "From a Whisper to a Scream" eases its way out of the speakers as the collection begins, seducing the listener, not hitting them in the gut. Even the funkiest moments here have style and are delivered subtly, which only makes them funkier, while putting such stylistic detours as the trippy "Southern Nights" into perspective. The individual albums Toussaint made for Reprise range from very good to excellent, yet this simply named collection eclipses them all, since it has all the best moments, expertly sequenced. It may be softer than his famous productions, but it's every bit as good and essential; in fact, it's one of the greatest greatest-hits albums of '70s soul, funk, and R&B. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Jazz - Released June 10, 2016 | Nonesuch

Booklet
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1958 | Hbc Remastered Jazz Classics

These dozen sides represent Allen Toussaint's earliest solo recordings for RCA Records circa 1958. Toussaint was essentially discovered by Danny Kessler -- an early version of what would now be considered an A&R man. It was during another artist's studio time -- featuring Toussaint as the accompanying pianist -- that Kessler first heard and approached Toussaint to prepare a few instrumentals of his own. On January 29, 1958, Toussaint (piano) was joined by a local crew that included Alvin "Red" Taylor (baritone sax), Nat Perrilliat (tenor sax) or Lee Allen (tenor sax), either Justin Adams (guitar) or Roy Montrell (guitar), Frank Fields (bass), and Charles "Hungry" Williams (drums). As intimated above, the precise personnel has long been debated. Kessler produced an outing that yielded the infectiously up-tempo blues "Whirlaway" and the Ray Charles-inspired gospel-meets-barrelhouse-meets-swing title "Happy Times." Kessler turned the pair into a locally successful single and was so encouraged by the results, less than a month later the same assemblage gathered to record the remainder of what would be the Wild Sound of New Orleans (1958). The soulful "Up the Creek" is a dark waltz with Toussaint's stirring keyboard runs emphasizing the haunting refrain. On the opposite side of the emotive spectrum, the hearty "Tim Tam" is impelled by Williams' hard and heavy backbeat with Allen blowing his lungs out. Another contrast follows with the whimsical "Me and You." The melody is decked out with a classy early 20th century pop standard feel, while all the more striking is the percussive accompaniment replicating a tap-dancer doing an old soft shoe. Immediately, Toussaint's expressive keyboarding on "Bono" and "Nashua" give props to the performance style of Professor Longhair before settling into their respectively catchy, mid-tempo rhythms. The horns have plenty of room to strut their proverbial stuff and the syncopation of the latter immediately brings Mardi Gras to mind. Perhaps the best-known tune among the lot is the jaunty "Java," which took on new life thanks to a chart-topping remake by Al Hirt. The trumpeter turned it into his unofficial theme song, ultimately making a 30-plus-year career out of it. "Wham Tousan" and "Pelican Parade" each quickly rev up to full throttle with the saxes taking on and going head-to-head with Toussaint's rollicking runs up and down the 88s. The German-label import Complete "Tousan" Sessions (1992) from Bear Family is a good way to get the 12 songs found here. It also boasts the complete and rarer Seville label material that the artist cut and issued under the moniker "Al Tousan." © Lindsay Planer /TiVo
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Soul - Released April 19, 2019 | Sunset Blvd. Records

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R&B - Released January 1, 2013 | Universal Music Group International

Allen Toussaint experienced a late-career revival sparked, ironically enough, by the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. He had to leave his hometown New Orleans after the hurricane, relocating to New York City where he started to play regular gigs at Joe's Pub and, soon enough, he cut The River in Reverse with Elvis Costello. That 2006 album propelled Toussaint toward a greater audience, leading to more headlining concerts, two of which are chronicled on Rounder's 2013 release Songbook. Recorded in 2009 at Joe's Pub, Songbook features nothing more than Toussaint alone at a piano running through songs he's written over the decades. He sprinkles in a New Orleans standard here and there -- there's an excellent rendition of "St. James Infirmary" -- but the spotlight is on his peerless originals, songs that are standards in their own right: "Lipstick Traces (On a Cigarette)," "Holy Cow," "Get Out of My Life, Woman," "Yes We Can," a medley of "A Certain Girl/Mother-in-Law/Fortune Teller," "Southern Nights." Toussaint's voice sounds smooth and silky -- he in no way seems as if he's in his seventies -- and his piano is similarly nimble as it glides from signature New Orleans stride and boogie to sophisticated, elegiac chords. Perhaps this album packs no revelations -- there are no rearrangements, nothing unexpected in the songs -- but as an elegant summation of strengths, this Songbook is mighty attractive. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Soul - Released January 1, 2013 | AP MUSIC LTD

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Jazz - Released August 7, 2020 | Before 1962 Recordings

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Jazz - Released December 5, 2006 | Harrison James Music

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Jazz - Released January 1, 2009 | 504

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Jazz - Released October 15, 2020 | Before 1962 Recordings Christmas Edition

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1958 | Jazz Roots Records

These dozen sides represent Allen Toussaint's earliest solo recordings for RCA Records circa 1958. Toussaint was essentially discovered by Danny Kessler -- an early version of what would now be considered an A&R man. It was during another artist's studio time -- featuring Toussaint as the accompanying pianist -- that Kessler first heard and approached Toussaint to prepare a few instrumentals of his own. On January 29, 1958, Toussaint (piano) was joined by a local crew that included Alvin "Red" Taylor (baritone sax), Nat Perrilliat (tenor sax) or Lee Allen (tenor sax), either Justin Adams (guitar) or Roy Montrell (guitar), Frank Fields (bass), and Charles "Hungry" Williams (drums). As intimated above, the precise personnel has long been debated. Kessler produced an outing that yielded the infectiously up-tempo blues "Whirlaway" and the Ray Charles-inspired gospel-meets-barrelhouse-meets-swing title "Happy Times." Kessler turned the pair into a locally successful single and was so encouraged by the results, less than a month later the same assemblage gathered to record the remainder of what would be the Wild Sound of New Orleans (1958). The soulful "Up the Creek" is a dark waltz with Toussaint's stirring keyboard runs emphasizing the haunting refrain. On the opposite side of the emotive spectrum, the hearty "Tim Tam" is impelled by Williams' hard and heavy backbeat with Allen blowing his lungs out. Another contrast follows with the whimsical "Me and You." The melody is decked out with a classy early 20th century pop standard feel, while all the more striking is the percussive accompaniment replicating a tap-dancer doing an old soft shoe. Immediately, Toussaint's expressive keyboarding on "Bono" and "Nashua" give props to the performance style of Professor Longhair before settling into their respectively catchy, mid-tempo rhythms. The horns have plenty of room to strut their proverbial stuff and the syncopation of the latter immediately brings Mardi Gras to mind. Perhaps the best-known tune among the lot is the jaunty "Java," which took on new life thanks to a chart-topping remake by Al Hirt. The trumpeter turned it into his unofficial theme song, ultimately making a 30-plus-year career out of it. "Wham Tousan" and "Pelican Parade" each quickly rev up to full throttle with the saxes taking on and going head-to-head with Toussaint's rollicking runs up and down the 88s. The German-label import Complete "Tousan" Sessions (1992) from Bear Family is a good way to get the 12 songs found here. It also boasts the complete and rarer Seville label material that the artist cut and issued under the moniker "Al Tousan." © Lindsay Planer /TiVo
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Blues - Released October 30, 2013 | Top Tracks

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Pop - Released April 15, 2014 | Hound Dog

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Allen Toussaint in the magazine