Allen Toussaint: The Road Through America
WFUV's New York City home is more than a thousand miles from New Orleans, but on a recent fine day, a favorite son of the Crescent City brought his city's sounds to our Studio-A piano. A bona fide legend, Allen Toussaint has produced everybody and written songs that have been sung by everybody else, but he was at WFUV to talk about his own recent album, The Bright Mississippi.
Produced by Joe Henry, the album features an all-star lineup of musicians playing the work of timeless jazz greats such as Sidney Bechet, Jelly Roll Morton, Thelonious Monk and Duke Ellington. Talking about the project, Toussaint described how Henry set up an environment where he and the band could just play and be comfortable, recording most of their songs in only a few takes.
We did our best to make sure Toussaint felt comfortable playing for us, too, as he led the way down The Bright Mississippi to the music he holds dear to his heart — what he called the different "musics" of New Orleans. It was a special session just before his Village Vanguard residency, with just Allen, his piano and some great conversation. In fact, his voice sounded so warm and soothing, I wanted to suggest that if this music thing didn't work out (after his numerous hits and lifetime-achievement awards), there might just be a place for him in radio.
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