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American Tunes

  • 554644

News & Reviews

  • Allen Toussaint's final recording, American Tunes, released to critical acclaim earlier this month, continues to earn rave reviews. Paste calls it "a beautiful colleciton of tracks that showcase his love of music no matter the genre." NPR's Fresh Air says it's "a fond last look at a composer and pianist who helped refine classic New Orleans pop and rhythm & blues and then brought them into the modern world. We miss him already." You can hear the complete review here.

  • Allen Toussaint's final recording, American Tunes, was released last week to critical acclaim, with three new and noteworthy reviews just in. American Tunes adds "an elegant new perspective on Toussaint's legacy," says NPR's All Things Considered. "He sings the same way he plays piano: gracefully, using understatement to devastating effect, says reviewer Tom Moon. "That kind of poise is easy to overlook, but it's crucial to just about everything on this delightful survey of American tunes. And it's one of the qualities that made Allen Toussaint an American treasure." Listen to the review here. The album is "an elegant and fitting adieu from the New Orleans master," says the AP. "Toussaint makes a fine final impression on American Tunes, a repertoire as rich as his own contributions to music over a nearly 60-year career."Stereophile names American Tunes its Recording of the Month, calling it "a fantastic and esoteric tour through the Great American Songbook, as selected by the old master himself."

  • About This Album

    Nonesuch released American Tunes, a new studio album by legendary New Orleans musician Allen Toussaint, on June 10, 2016. Toussaint had just completed the album when he passed away in November of last year during a European tour. Recording took place at two sets of sessions with producer Joe Henry: solo piano at Toussaint's New Orleans home studio in 2013, and with the rhythm section of Jay Bellerose and David Piltch—joined by guests Bill Frisell, Charles Lloyd, Greg Leisz, Rhiannon Giddens, and Van Dyke Parks—in Los Angeles in October 2015. The album comprises solo performances of Professor Longhair tunes and band arrangements of songs by Toussaint, Duke Ellington, Fats Waller, Paul Simon, and others.

    Allen Toussaint's work as composer, producer, arranger, and performer, especially in the 1960s and '70s, helped shape the sound of R&B, soul, and funk as we know it today. He collaborated memorably with artists ranging from Lee Dorsey and Ernie K. Doe to the Pointer Sisters and Labelle, from the Meters and Dr. John to the Band and Paul McCartney. The New York Times recently said, "In Mr. Toussaint's long career as songwriter, arranger and producer he has honed a piano style that's supportive and allusive; a little trill or tremolo sums up all the splashy joys of New Orleans patriarchs like Professor Longhair and James Booker, and a syncopated chord under right-hand octaves summons gospel. Mr. Toussaint has the two-fisted, rippling vocabulary of the city's piano legacy, but he uses it in dapper ways."

    Toussaint's children, Alison Toussaint-LeBeaux and Clarence Reginald Toussaint, who have long served as their father's managers, said of the American Tunes album, "Our father approached this project with great care and understanding of the songs selected and paid true homage to Professor Longhair, his musical hero. He wanted to bring as much of the Toussaint touch as he could to these wonderful classics."

    Nonesuch previously released The Bright Mississippi in 2009. Also produced by Henry, the record includes songs by jazz greats such as Sidney Bechet, Jelly Roll Morton, Django Reinhardt, Thelonious Monk, Duke Ellington, and Billy Strayhorn. The album received tremendous critical praise, with the Boston Globe saying it "couldn't sound more like New Orleans. (Toussaint) revisits jazz classics … and takes them for a stroll through Preservation Hall, imbuing his own funky brand of pop-song charisma. The results are coolly sophisticated, an unfussy, mostly instrumental set of slink-and-slide joints shot through with a harmonic imagination that turns even a traditional hymn into an after-hours swing … Toussaint's musical soul guides all, making the classics sound like his own."

    That project indirectly grew from Toussaint's contributions to Our New Orleans, the benefit album that Nonesuch released in fall 2005 to aid hurricane victims in the wake of the Katrina disaster. That collection opens with a version of "Yes We Can Can," the Toussaint song the Pointer Sisters made famous, newly recorded with producer Joe Henry, and it included a solo piano piece, "Tipitina and Me," co-written by Toussaint in tribute to Professor Longhair.

    Joe Henry had first worked with Toussaint when he invited the pianist to join the sessions for I Believe to My Soul, a studio convocation of mature R&B stars. Henry subsequently acted as producer on Toussaint's post-Katrina collaboration with Elvis Costello, The River in Reverse. He describes the most recent sessions: "I have been working with Allen Toussaint—under his spell and subject to his influence—for a full decade now. He was a quiet radical, musically-speaking, and a prince of great humility."

    Credits

    MUSICIANS
    Allen Toussaint, piano; vocals ("American Tune")

    with:

    Jay Bellerose, drums and percussion
    Bill Frisell, electric guitar
    Greg Leisz, weissenborn
    Charles Lloyd, tenor saxophone
    David Piltch, upright bass

    and:

    Adam Levy, gut-string guitar ("American Tune")
    Cameron Stone, cello ("Danza")
    Amy Shulman, harp ("Danza")

    Special guests:
    Rhiannon Giddens, vocals ("Come Sunday," "Rocks In My Bed")
    Van Dyke Parks, second piano ("Danza," "Southern Nights") and orchestral arrangement ("Danza")

    PRODUCTION CREDITS
    Produced by Joe Henry
    Recorded by Ryan Freeland
    Solo Piano Tracks Recorded May 20–21, 2013, at Toussaint Sound Studio, New Orleans, LA
    All Other Tracks Recorded October 1–3 & 5, 2015, at United Recording, Hollywood, CA
    Assistant Engineers at United Recording: Wesley Seidman, Monique Evelyn
    Production Assistant: Evan Vidar
    Mixed by Ryan Freeland at Stampede Origin, Culver City, CA
    Mastered by Robert C. Ludwig at Gateway Mastering Studios, Portland, ME

    Photography by Michael Wilson
    Design by Barbara de Wilde

    Executive Producer: David Bither

nonesuch's picture
on April 1, 2016 - 2:36pm
Artist Name: 
Allen Toussaint
genre: 
Release Date: 
Friday, June 10, 2016 - 13:00
DescriptionExcerpt: 

American Tunes is the final recording from legendary New Orleans musician Allen Toussaint. Produced by Joe Henry, it features both solo piano recordings and others made with musicians like Jay Bellerose, Bill Frisell, Greg Leisz, Charles Lloyd, David Piltch, and special guests Rhiannon Giddens and Van Dyke Parks. There are works by Toussaint, Professor Longhair, Duke Ellington, Fats Waller, Paul Simon, and others. The Los Angeles Times says it's "a rich pianistic tour de force of American music." The Times of London calls it "gorgeous," exclaiming: "Swan songs don't get any better."

Description: 

Nonesuch released American Tunes, a new studio album by legendary New Orleans musician Allen Toussaint, on June 10, 2016. Toussaint had just completed the album when he passed away in November of last year during a European tour. Recording took place at two sets of sessions with producer Joe Henry: solo piano at Toussaint's New Orleans home studio in 2013, and with the rhythm section of Jay Bellerose and David Piltch—joined by guests Bill Frisell, Charles Lloyd, Greg Leisz, Rhiannon Giddens, and Van Dyke Parks—in Los Angeles in October 2015. The album comprises solo performances of Professor Longhair tunes and band arrangements of songs by Toussaint, Duke Ellington, Fats Waller, Paul Simon, and others.

Allen Toussaint's work as composer, producer, arranger, and performer, especially in the 1960s and '70s, helped shape the sound of R&B, soul, and funk as we know it today. He collaborated memorably with artists ranging from Lee Dorsey and Ernie K. Doe to the Pointer Sisters and Labelle, from the Meters and Dr. John to the Band and Paul McCartney. The New York Times recently said, "In Mr. Toussaint's long career as songwriter, arranger and producer he has honed a piano style that's supportive and allusive; a little trill or tremolo sums up all the splashy joys of New Orleans patriarchs like Professor Longhair and James Booker, and a syncopated chord under right-hand octaves summons gospel. Mr. Toussaint has the two-fisted, rippling vocabulary of the city's piano legacy, but he uses it in dapper ways."

Toussaint's children, Alison Toussaint-LeBeaux and Clarence Reginald Toussaint, who have long served as their father's managers, said of the American Tunes album, "Our father approached this project with great care and understanding of the songs selected and paid true homage to Professor Longhair, his musical hero. He wanted to bring as much of the Toussaint touch as he could to these wonderful classics."

Nonesuch previously released The Bright Mississippi in 2009. Also produced by Henry, the record includes songs by jazz greats such as Sidney Bechet, Jelly Roll Morton, Django Reinhardt, Thelonious Monk, Duke Ellington, and Billy Strayhorn. The album received tremendous critical praise, with the Boston Globe saying it "couldn't sound more like New Orleans. (Toussaint) revisits jazz classics … and takes them for a stroll through Preservation Hall, imbuing his own funky brand of pop-song charisma. The results are coolly sophisticated, an unfussy, mostly instrumental set of slink-and-slide joints shot through with a harmonic imagination that turns even a traditional hymn into an after-hours swing … Toussaint's musical soul guides all, making the classics sound like his own."

That project indirectly grew from Toussaint's contributions to Our New Orleans, the benefit album that Nonesuch released in fall 2005 to aid hurricane victims in the wake of the Katrina disaster. That collection opens with a version of "Yes We Can Can," the Toussaint song the Pointer Sisters made famous, newly recorded with producer Joe Henry, and it included a solo piano piece, "Tipitina and Me," co-written by Toussaint in tribute to Professor Longhair.

Joe Henry had first worked with Toussaint when he invited the pianist to join the sessions for I Believe to My Soul, a studio convocation of mature R&B stars. Henry subsequently acted as producer on Toussaint's post-Katrina collaboration with Elvis Costello, The River in Reverse. He describes the most recent sessions: "I have been working with Allen Toussaint—under his spell and subject to his influence—for a full decade now. He was a quiet radical, musically-speaking, and a prince of great humility."

ProductionCredits: 

PRODUCTION CREDITS
Produced by Joe Henry
Recorded by Ryan Freeland
Solo Piano Tracks Recorded May 20–21, 2013, at Toussaint Sound Studio, New Orleans, LA
All Other Tracks Recorded October 1–3 & 5, 2015, at United Recording, Hollywood, CA
Assistant Engineers at United Recording: Wesley Seidman, Monique Evelyn
Production Assistant: Evan Vidar
Mixed by Ryan Freeland at Stampede Origin, Culver City, CA
Mastered by Robert C. Ludwig at Gateway Mastering Studios, Portland, ME

Photography by Michael Wilson
Design by Barbara de Wilde

Executive Producer: David Bither

Cover Art: 
Nonesuch Selection Number: 

554644

ns_album_releasedate: 
Friday, April 1, 2016 - 18:30
Album Status: 
UPC/Price: 
Label: 
CD+MP3
UPC: 
075597946703
Price: 
16.00
Label: 
FLAC
UPC: 
075597946710
Price: 
12.00
Label: 
96/24 HD FLAC
UPC: 
075597946741
Price: 
17.00
Label: 
MP3
UPC: 
075597946765
Price: 
11.00
MusicianDetails: 

MUSICIANS
Allen Toussaint, piano; vocals ("American Tune")

with:

Jay Bellerose, drums and percussion
Bill Frisell, electric guitar
Greg Leisz, weissenborn
Charles Lloyd, tenor saxophone
David Piltch, upright bass

and:

Adam Levy, gut-string guitar ("American Tune")
Cameron Stone, cello ("Danza")
Amy Shulman, harp ("Danza")

Special guests:
Rhiannon Giddens, vocals ("Come Sunday," "Rocks In My Bed")
Van Dyke Parks, second piano ("Danza," "Southern Nights") and orchestral arrangement ("Danza")

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