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The Bright Mississippi

  • 480380

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 Records released The Bright Mississippi, Allen Toussaint’s first solo album in more than a decade, on April 21, 2009. Produced by friend and frequent collaborator Joe Henry, the record includes songs by jazz greats such as Sidney Bechet, Jelly Roll Morton, Django Reinhardt, Thelonious Monk, Duke Ellington, and Billy Strayhorn. Toussaint and Henry created a band of highly regarded musicians for the sessions: clarinetist Don Byron, trumpeter Nicholas Payton, guitarist Marc Ribot, bassist David Piltch, and percussionist Jay Bellerose. Additionally, pianist Brad Mehldau and saxophonist Joshua Redman each join Toussaint for a track. The Bright Mississippi was reissued on 140-gram vinyl on June 10, 2016.

    Growing up and learning to play the piano in New Orleans, Toussaint knew the music that is on The Bright Mississippi well, although his career tended more toward rock and popular music; he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998, by his friend and collaborator Robbie Robertson of The Band. This return to the music of his roots was suggested by The Bright Mississippi producer Joe Henry, who had produced Toussaint’s 2006 album with Elvis Costello, The River in Reverse, as well tracks from as I Believe to My Soul, a collection of classic R&B and soul songs, and songs on Nonesuch’s 2005 Gulf Coast benefit album, Our New Orleans.

    As Henry explains, “At the close of the day’s Our New Orleans session, Allen sat alone at the piano and played through an arrangement he’d devised of Professor Longhair’s Crescent City standard, ‘Tipitina.’ It sounded like nothing I’d ever heard before and like everything I’d ever heard.” He continues, “In the weeks that followed I worried over this brief piece of music like it was a rosary, and I wasn’t alone in my devotion to it. The principals of Nonesuch Records were thinking what I was: that a door had been nudged open, and behind it lay a room; and in that room there perhaps resided a particularly gifted and heretofore unsuspected executor of the broad musical amalgam born to New Orleans at the dawn of the 20th century.”

    While Toussaint has always known material like “West End Blues” and “St. James Infirmary,” he admits that, as a performer, “I hadn’t tackled them on my own. ‘Tackle’ is a bad word—I hadn’t caressed them on my own, except to listen from time to time in passing. Even the gigs that I’ve done during my gigging days, I was playing whatever was on the radio at the time, boogie-ing and woogie-ing and the like. I hadn’t been through this standard bag. I always loved those songs, but I had never been in a setting where that is what I would do for a while. Until now.”

    He calls the experience of making The Bright Mississippi “wonderful. Everything is live, of course. This isn’t the kind of assembly line music where somebody put the wheels on here and somebody put the top on there. Everything got done at the same time, so everybody fed on each other, their personality and tonality.”

    Credits

    MUSICIANS
    Allen Toussaint, piano (1-12), vocals (11)
    with
    Don Byron, clarinet
    Nicholas Payton, trumpet
    Marc Ribot, acoustic guitar
    David Piltch, upright bass
    Jay Bellerose, drums and percussion
    and special guests
    Brad Mehldau, piano (5)
    Joshua Redman, tenor saxophone (10)

    PRODUCTION CREDITS
    Produced by Joe Henry
    Recorded March 19-22, 2008, by Kevin Killen at Avatar Studios, New York
    Assisted by Anthony Ruotolo
    Mixed by Kevin Killen at Sevonay Sound and Avatar Studios, New York
    Assisted at Avatar by Rick Kwan

    Cover photography by William Claxton (New Orleans, 1960)
    Additional photography: Michael Wilson and John Cohen
    Design: Sequel Studios

nonesuch's picture
on January 27, 2009 - 5:08pm
Artist Name: 
Allen Toussaint
Release Date: 
Tuesday, April 21, 2009 - 04:00
DescriptionExcerpt: 

For the first time in his storied career, Toussaint explores the work of his New Orleans forebears on a soulful, live-in-the-studio jazz set, produced by Joe Henry that the Washington Post calls an "exquisite" album, one that reveals his "great flair and imagination as an interpreter and performer." The New York Times says, "Toussaint brings to these songs his own elegant, reserved sensibility." Guests include Joshua Redman and Brad Mehldau.

Description: 

Nonesuch Records released The Bright Mississippi, Allen Toussaint’s first solo album in more than a decade, on April 21, 2009. Produced by friend and frequent collaborator Joe Henry, the record includes songs by jazz greats such as Sidney Bechet, Jelly Roll Morton, Django Reinhardt, Thelonious Monk, Duke Ellington, and Billy Strayhorn. Toussaint and Henry created a band of highly regarded musicians for the sessions: clarinetist Don Byron, trumpeter Nicholas Payton, guitarist Marc Ribot, bassist David Piltch, and percussionist Jay Bellerose. Additionally, pianist Brad Mehldau and saxophonist Joshua Redman each join Toussaint for a track. The Bright Mississippi was reissued on 140-gram vinyl on June 10, 2016.

Growing up and learning to play the piano in New Orleans, Toussaint knew the music that is on The Bright Mississippi well, although his career tended more toward rock and popular music; he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998, by his friend and collaborator Robbie Robertson of The Band. This return to the music of his roots was suggested by The Bright Mississippi producer Joe Henry, who had produced Toussaint’s 2006 album with Elvis Costello, The River in Reverse, as well tracks from as I Believe to My Soul, a collection of classic R&B and soul songs, and songs on Nonesuch’s 2005 Gulf Coast benefit album, Our New Orleans.

As Henry explains, “At the close of the day’s Our New Orleans session, Allen sat alone at the piano and played through an arrangement he’d devised of Professor Longhair’s Crescent City standard, ‘Tipitina.’ It sounded like nothing I’d ever heard before and like everything I’d ever heard.” He continues, “In the weeks that followed I worried over this brief piece of music like it was a rosary, and I wasn’t alone in my devotion to it. The principals of Nonesuch Records were thinking what I was: that a door had been nudged open, and behind it lay a room; and in that room there perhaps resided a particularly gifted and heretofore unsuspected executor of the broad musical amalgam born to New Orleans at the dawn of the 20th century.”

While Toussaint has always known material like “West End Blues” and “St. James Infirmary,” he admits that, as a performer, “I hadn’t tackled them on my own. ‘Tackle’ is a bad word—I hadn’t caressed them on my own, except to listen from time to time in passing. Even the gigs that I’ve done during my gigging days, I was playing whatever was on the radio at the time, boogie-ing and woogie-ing and the like. I hadn’t been through this standard bag. I always loved those songs, but I had never been in a setting where that is what I would do for a while. Until now.”

He calls the experience of making The Bright Mississippi “wonderful. Everything is live, of course. This isn’t the kind of assembly line music where somebody put the wheels on here and somebody put the top on there. Everything got done at the same time, so everybody fed on each other, their personality and tonality.”

ProductionCredits: 

PRODUCTION CREDITS
Produced by Joe Henry
Recorded March 19-22, 2008, by Kevin Killen at Avatar Studios, New York
Assisted by Anthony Ruotolo
Mixed by Kevin Killen at Sevonay Sound and Avatar Studios, New York
Assisted at Avatar by Rick Kwan

Cover photography by William Claxton (New Orleans, 1960)
Additional photography: Michael Wilson and John Cohen
Design: Sequel Studios

Cover Art: 
Nonesuch Selection Number: 

480380

Number of Discs in Set: 
1disc
Album Status: 
UPC/Price: 
Label: 
CD+MP3
UPC: 
075597992878BUN
Price: 
16.00
Label: 
MP3
UPC: 
075597992861
Price: 
10.00
Label: 
LP
UPC: 
075597982770
Price: 
25.00
MusicianDetails: 

MUSICIANS
Allen Toussaint, piano (1-12), vocals (11)
with
Don Byron, clarinet
Nicholas Payton, trumpet
Marc Ribot, acoustic guitar
David Piltch, upright bass
Jay Bellerose, drums and percussion
and special guests
Brad Mehldau, piano (5)
Joshua Redman, tenor saxophone (10)

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