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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.

Listen to the previous Favorite Session, or see our full archive.

Copyright 2009 WFUV

Rita Houston
A nationally recognized tastemaker with a broad knowledge of and passion for music, Rita Houston shapes the musical direction of WFUV's acclaimed City Folk® format. With the help of staff, Houston selects the songs that become part of City Folk®, establishes theme days and creates popular features like "New Release Monday" and "Guilty Pleasures Day." Well-known for her rapport with artists, she books the on-air interviews, hosting a number of them herself. Houston also serves as executive producer of the nationally distributed City Folk Live concert series, and produces annual benefit CDs of performances from WFUV's Studio A.
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