Superstar Allen Toussaint at Telluride Jazz Celebration, 8/5 – 8/7

Superstar Allen Toussaint at Telluride Jazz Celebration, 8/5 – 8/7

[click “Play”, Susan speaks with Allen Toussaint]


Allen Toussaint
Photo credit: Michael Wilson

Treme, the neighborhood in New Orleans, and Telluride, a box canyon mountain town, do not, on the surface, have much in common, except “Treme,” the latest knock-out series from HBO, keeps coming up in Telluride.

Steve Earle mentioned “Treme” during his performance at the 38th annual Telluride Bluegrass Festival in June. He appears as himself in the series. And now Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, Allen Toussaint, another series regular (as himself), is headed our way for a momentous event: Toussaint performs on the Town Park Main Stage for the first time ever with none other than Delta Lady, Rita Coolidge. The event takes place Sunday night, August 7, at the 35th annual Telluride Jazz Celebration.

(Follow this link for a related post on Coolidge.)

And if you are into six degrees of separation, here’s more. In 2009, Elvis Costello, the British rocker with deep ties to American roots music, appeared at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival. The most recent of Toussaint’s long list of honors and accolades is the Grammy-nominated pop/vocal album of the year, “The River in Reverse,” Toussaint’s collaboration with, you guessed it, Elvis Costello.

Saints preserve us, “Toussaints,” “All Saints,” if you have not experienced the sounds of Allen Toussaint. Born in 1938, the musician, songwriter and record producer is one of the most influential figures in New Orleans R&B. And he has trod many paths in his illustrious 40-year-plus career. Toussaint has produced, written for, arranged, had his songs covered by, and performed with music giants, including but not limited to The Judds, Paul McCartney, Paul Simon, Elvis Costello, Patti LaBelle, Mac “Dr. John” Rebannac, Aaron and Art Neville, Joe Cocker, The (original) Meters, Glen Campbell, The Band, Little Feat, The Rolling Stones, Devo, Ernie K-Doe, Lee Dorsey, Irma Thomas, Etta James, Ramsey Lewis, Eric Gale and the countless others. His music has been featured in numerous films, including but not limited to, “Casino,” “Moulin Rouge,” and “Maid in Manhattan.”

Toussaint’s career began in his early twenties when hired by the local Minit Records to supervise its recording activities, awaiting the arrival of Harold Batiste. In short order, he accumulated a string of hits for the label, producing, writing, arranging and often performing on tracks by Ernie K-Doe, Irma Thomas, Art and Aaron Neville, Chris Kenner, and Benny Spellman, putting his signature New Orleans sound on the map, an obvious continuation of the Domino/Bartholomew era.

And the beat goes on….

From his songwriting to his piano work, soulful voice and artful arrangements, Allen Toussaint is the man to know. And his genius is understated – except when over-the-top Elton John is spouting:
“When I meet someone like Allen Toussaint – that for me is like meeting, you know, someone the equivalent of the Dalai Lama because for me, he influenced the way I played the piano, he’s a historical part of rock and roll,” said Elton John on Elvis Costello’s Spectacle.

To learn more about the man and his career, click the “play” button and listen to our interview.

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