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New Orleans Bowl           A.T. performs The National Anthem at The New Orleans Bowl NCAA Game December 21, 2013 
Allen Toussaint & Gibson Guitar Collaborations with / Songs covered by Elvis Costello, The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Band, Paul McCartney, Aaron Neville, Dr. John, Jerry Garcia, Phish, Plant / Krauss and scores of others.
Allen Toussaint and Elvis Costello Collaborations with / Songs covered by Elvis Costello, The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Band, Paul McCartney, Aaron Neville, Dr. John, Jerry Garcia, Phish, Plant / Krauss and scores of others.


The Official Web Site of Allen Toussaint

Come in and enjoy the life and music of Allen Toussaint. You are about to experience one of the music world's treasures.  The Southern Knight has led a surge of music that spans five decades.  Collaborations with / Songs covered by Elvis Costello, The Rolling Stones, Patti Labelle, The Who, The Band, Paul McCartney, Aaron Neville, Dr. John, Jerry Garcia, Phish, Plant / Krauss and scores of others.

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Allen Toussaint

Music Playing: In Your Love

Album: Connected (1996)





"I don't want y'all thinkin' 'this is just some old legend that passed away' naw," Questlove, founding member of the hip-hop group The Roots, wrote on Instagram.

"This dude wrote some of your favorite music & you just didn't know it."

Toussaint's influence is woven through popular music and hip-hop, he wrote.

"At least 12 'Get Out My Life Woman' snares were like starch in hip hop's daily nutritional chart -- meaning so there you barely notice it," Questlove wrote.



The Allen Toussaint Band Tribute to Allen Toussaint Sunday May 1, 2016.  

 Come out and enjoy the music of the Southern Knight and all the Amazing Talent at The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival!  



Allen Toussaint -New Release



Allen Toussaint’s Final Recordings to Be Released in June

The cover of the Allen Toussaint album that is to be released in June.Credit Nonesuch Records

The final recordings of Allen Toussaint, the sage New Orleans songwriter, singer and pianist who died in November at age 77, will be released on June 10, in the album “American Tunes” (Nonesuch).

The album features Mr. Toussaint’s interpretations of a range of American music, including songs by Fats Waller, Duke Ellington, Professor Longhair and Paul Simon (whose “American Tune,” from 1973, gives the album its title). It also features two of Mr. Toussaint’s own songs, his hit “Southern Nights” and “Delores’ Boyfriend,” as well as Danza, Op. 33, a piece by Louis Moreau Gottschalk, the 19th-century composer who was born in New Orleans. The singer Rhiannon Giddens and the arranger and pianist Van Dyke Parks make guest appearances.

The album, produced by Joe Henry, a frequent collaborator of Mr. Toussaint over the last decade, was recorded in two sets of sessions, the first in New Orleans in 2013 and the second in Los Angeles in October 2015, just a month before Mr. Toussaint died while on tour in Madrid. In an interview this week Mr. Henry said that the album had grown out of longstanding conversations about Mr. Toussaint’s interests as an interpreter, particularly of the music of the New Orleans piano master Professor Longhair.

The sessions, Mr. Henry added, proceeded with no indication of any health problems.

“He seemed as energetic and buoyant and focused as he ever seemed to me,” Mr. Henry said. “Nothing gave away a notion that he might not be well, or that we might be writing his last statement, as it were.”

Links to the album pages where people can pre-order it:



The Allen Toussaint Tributes

Allen Toussaint band plans tributes at French Quarter Fest, Jazz Fest

John Wirt By John Wirt
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on April 04, 2016 at 7:00 AM, updated April 04, 2016 at 10:33 AM

The core members of Allen Toussaint's band felt like they were part of his family. Two musicians in the late songwriter, pianist and producer's band really are family members -- his son, percussionist Clarence "Reginald" Toussaint, and son-in-law, drummer Herman LeBeaux Jr.

Clarence Toussaint, LeBeaux, guitarist Renard Poché and bassist Roland Guerin performed with Toussaint from 2008 until a heart attack felled him Nov. 10 after a concert in Spain.


Allen Toussaint, the legendary songwriter and pianist, has died

Allen Toussaint, the legendary songwriter and pianist, has died

Allen Toussaint, New Orleans composer, producer and performer died Monday while on tour in Europe. He was 77.

The surviving musicians recently gathered at the beloved New Orleans music master's recording studio – still decorated with his art and music memorabilia -- to reminisce. The warmth and professional fulfillment they experienced with Toussaint, onstage and off, dominated the conversation.

Toussaint, Poché said, as he sat beside his band mates, had a vision for everything he did.

The Allen Toussaint Band and special guests

  • What: 3 tributes to Allen Toussaint
  • Where: French Quarter Fest Tribute at House of Blues, 225 Decatur St.; Jazz and Heritage Foundation Gala at the Hilton Riverside Hotel, 2 Poydras St.; and New Orleans Jazz Fest
  • When: French Quarter Fest Tribute, April 8 at 9 p.m.; Jazz and Heritage Foundation Gala, April 21 at 7 p.m.; and Jazz Fest, May 1 at 2:20 p.m.
  • More information: French Quarter Fest tribute tickets are $35; Jazz and Heritage Foundation gala tickets, $550; and Jazz Fest, $65 through April 21, $75 at the gate.

"Very particular about the music," the guitarist emphasized. "He also had amazing focus. So much so that he'd write music charts in the studio while the band rehearsed. I don't know how he could focus enough to write while other music was going on! And then he could comment on the conversation we had while he was writing! Man, he had some kind of brain."

And despite decades of success and acclaim, Toussaint stayed driven and enthusiastic.

"If you didn't know better, you would think he was a person still trying to make it," Poché said.

For Guerin, touring with Toussaint was like bringing home friends and a wonderful mentor along for the ride.

"It was home on the road," the bassist said. "In terms of Mr. Toussaint specifically, I learned stuff like I was learning from my dad. He had that kind of care. It was that kind of family, but a band as well."

Lessons learned from the maestro included the "details in everything," the bassist said. "Songs and life. He showed me, in a lot of ways, another world."

LeBeaux, a classically trained drummer, cited Toussaint's dedication to excellence. His musicians were expected to follow their leader's example.

"There's no shuckin' and jivin'," LeBeaux said. "You're here to do a job and you will do the best job you can possibly do."

The formal music education LeBeaux received at Xavier University didn't prepare him for Toussaint's funky rhythm and blues.

"Up until the last show we played, I was still learning about those things he had presented to me 20 years before," LeBeaux said.

In the upcoming weeks, Toussaint's band will play a trio of tribute shows to him. First there's a French Quarter Festival concert, 9 p.m. Friday (April 8) at House of Blues. It's a benefit for New Orleans Artists Against Hunger and Homelessness, the charity Toussaint co-founded with Aaron Neville.

Clarence Toussaint, seated between his band mates and his father's grand piano, expressed his gratitude to April 8 guests Leo Nocentelli, Walter "Wolfman" Washingon, Davell Crawford, James Andrews, Big Sam Williams and Robin Barnes.

"They care a lot and they say such beautiful words about him," he said. "And then we go on Jazz Fest and have home artists and national artists joining us. It's a beautiful thing."

On Sunday, May, 1 on the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival's Gentilly Stage, The Allen Toussaint Band will appear with Aaron Neville, Cyril Neville, Dr. John, Bonnie Raitt, Jon Batiste, Jimmy Buffett and Davell Crawford.

Between French Quarter Festival and Jazz Fest, the Toussaint band will perform at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 21, at the Jazz and Heritage Foundation gala with guests Crawford, John Boutte and Suzanne Bonseigneur. Joe Krown will play piano at all three shows.

As pleased as Clarence Toussaint is with the guests who'll join the tributes, he's especially happy that all three shows feature the intact Allen Toussaint Band.

"To have the nucleus here, that's good," he said.

That nucleus came together in 2008 to support Toussaint's surprising post-Hurricane Katrina career as an international touring artist. Before Katrina, Toussaint stayed largely behind the scenes, writing songs, making arrangements and producing. But then a lady named Katrina, he liked to say, became his unexpected booking agent.

His extensive late-career touring began with more than 200 shows with Elvis Costello. Toussaint and his band subsequently played hundreds more concerts -- until that final performance in Madrid.

Toussaint's sudden demise shocked New Orleans, the home he dearly loved. The city's residents loved Toussaint back, delighting in the always elegant musician's frequent public presence. New Orleanians couldn't imagine the city without him. His family felt the same way.


Allen Toussaint's fashion sense: Be sharp

Allen Toussaint's fashion sense: Be sharp

No matter how seemingly incongruous his ensembles, Allen Toussaint made them work, perhaps in part because of the way he carried himself: His easy, graceful manner and self-assured poise made even his more outlandish outfits seem matter-of-fact, true and natural.

"We're all people of God," Clarence Toussaint said. "I know the pattern of life, how it's supposed to be. But I never saw any point in my life when my dad wouldn't be there. And I've talked to quite a few people -- Quint Davis, even George Wein, who's 90 years old, and Elvis (Costello). It's wonderful that people saw him in that light, that he would always be here."


The House With 88 Keys


 A New Orleans music legend recalls his childhood piano and the love-filled 'shotgun' house where he grew up.

Allen Toussaint, 75, has written dozens of hits—including "Southern Nights," "Working in the Coalmine," and "Whipped Cream." In July, he was presented with a 2012 National Humanities Medal by President Obama. Mr. Toussaint's new album, "Songbook" (Rounder), was released Sept. 24. He spoke with reporter Marc Myers.

Rush Jagoe for The Wall Street Journal

Allen Toussaint in front of the home on College Court where he and his family lived in the Gert Town section of New Orleans. The house now bears a plaque recognizing its role in music history.

For the first 24 years of my life I lived with my parents in Gert Town—a poor section of New Orleans that was rich in spirit. All my young memories are in that dingy-blond 'shotgun' house on College Court. They called it a shotgun house because you could stand in the front and shoot a shotgun straight through it. That's how small it was.

The house had a front room, two bedrooms and a kitchen. My older brother, Vincent, and I slept on a Duofold sofa that opened to a bed, and my older sister, Joyce, slept in one of the two bedrooms. Everyone in the neighborhood knew each other. If your mother forgot to leave you the key to the front door, you bothered your neighbors, since everyone's skeleton key worked in all the locks.

When I was 6½ years old, my aunt's Story & Clark upright piano was brought to our house for my sister to play. My sister took several lessons but didn't take to it. Her teacher used to hit her hands when she made mistakes. Eventually I started touching the keys and picked out melodies that I had heard on the radio. Soon my sister showed me how the notes on the keyboard corresponded to music on the page, and I started making up songs.

Rush Jagoe for The Wall Street Journal

Mr. Toussaint in his childhood neighborhood.

Our upright wasn't much of a piano—it was a half-step flat the entire time we owned it—but that piano was everything to me. It was dark mahogany, almost black, with rouge crimps all over it. I took about eight piano lessons before my teacher gave up on me. I loved boogie-woogie and hillbilly music and gospel too much.

Everything changed for me when I heard Professor Longhair, a New Orleans blues singer and piano player. I dropped everything, and just played piano and wrote songs. Fortunately the radio was very close to the piano, so I could turn the dial, listen and play along. I stayed on the piano all the time. When company would come over, my mother had me come out to play a boogie-woogie.

The first song I wrote on that piano was a simple little duet for trombone and trumpet. I was about 10. I was inspired by a trombone duet solo on Benny Goodman's "Love Walked In." I never named my song—I wasn't that bold yet. I've not heard it played to this day. I wouldn't even know where it is at this point.

At home, I was treated royally, and my parents were very encouraging about my playing and composing. My parents—Clarence Toussaint and Naomi Neville—loved each other very much. I felt loved and even liked. We all felt we belonged to each other, to our family, instead of to the outside world.

My daddy was a mechanic on the L&N Railroad. He fixed locomotives. He was strong-willed and a strong man physically. He loved fixing things. Anything that was broken in our family came over to our house for repairs, including cars. My dad and I talked a lot. He was a very serous, wise man. I beat him at checkers only once. It brought a smile to his face.

One day when I was 13, I went into his bedroom where he was reading and showed him a trombone part I had written. My dad had been a professional musician but had to drop the trumpet to get a better job and take care of his family. He didn't improvise but he could read music. My trombone part was for a small ensemble: trombone, trumpet and sax. When my father looked over the music, he gave me a compliment that from then on made me feel very positive about what I was doing. He looked up, kind of smiled and said, "You're a genius." To a little boy that word felt great.

On my 14th birthday, I was playing piano and suddenly stopped. I turned my body to the left, straddled the seat and rested my elbows on my thighs. For whatever reason, I said to myself, "I'm 14 and every 10 years I'm going to check back with this 14 year old and tell him how I'm doing." I have no idea how I came up with that, but from then on I had those chats. They don't last long. I talk to myself as though that 14-year-old is still at the piano. I often say how surprised I am at how far I've come. The 14-year old at the piano just listens—but he always seems as surprised as I am.

A version of this article appeared September 27, 2013, on page M12 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: The House With 88 Keys.



Allen Toussaint

WWOZ's Two-Part Allen Toussaint Special, Thursday, January 14

"Allen Toussaint Day"



      Allen Toussaint at Jazz Fest 2005 [Photo by Leon Morris]Allen Toussaint at Jazz Fest 2005 [Photo by Leon Morris]


Allen Toussaint in the French Quarter, April 2015 [Photo by Ryan Hodgson-Rigsbee]

Allen Toussaint in the French Quarter, April 2015 [Photo by Ryan Hodgson-Rigsbee]

Last week, the New Orleans City Council unanimously passed a resolution declaring Thursday, January 14 to be 'Allen Toussaint Day' in the city of New Orleans. On what would have been his 78th birthday, the whole city will celebrate one of the finest musical ambassadors New Orleans ever had.

As part of the celebration, WWOZ is airing two back-to-back episodes of New Orleans Calling, paying tribute to Allen, starting at 2p. Part One, featuring the story of Allen Toussaint in his own words, is also available for online streaming now at Part Two features the voices of his collaborators and friends, including Irma Thomas, the Meters, and others, and will become available online after it airs on Thursday.

Toussaint passed away unexpectedly while on tour in Spain on November 10, 2015. A stirring and emotional tribute to his life happened at the Orpheum Theater on Friday, November 20 with performances and words from many of his talented friends, including Cyril Neville, Deacon John, Irma Thomas, John Boutte, Boz Scaggs, Davell Crawford, Jimmy Buffett, Elvis Costello, and more.

Listen to WWOZ:

Allen Toussaint

Allen Toussaint at Blues & BBQ Fest, 2015


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The Song Book


Larry Blumenfeld on jazz and other sounds

BLU NOTES: Larry Blumenfeld on jazz and other sounds


Allen Toussaint Sings His Own Songbook



I’ve encountered Allen Toussaint in the middle of the Fair Grounds, the site of the annual New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, on a sweltering day, looking nonetheless cool and unruffled in a blazer and ascot. I remember running into him in Manhattan, as light snow fell, in 2006, after he’d been forced to relocate to New York City, hailing a cab in a neat suit and polka-dot tie, seeming serene despite all else. I’ve heard him whip up old-school R&B frenzy at the Fair Grounds, listened to him stun a packed house into observant silence at Manhattan’s Village Vanguard jazz club.

Last month, President Obama awarded Toussaint the National Medal of Arts for “his contributions as a composer, producer, and performer,” according to the White House website, and “sustaining his city’s rich tradition of rhythm and blues and lifting it to the national stage.” At 75, Toussaint embodies the New Orleans tradition of blending styles to create timeless hits, picking up whereFats Domino left off in the 1950s. Since the 1960s, he has created scores of hits for a stunningly wide range of musicians, from the Lee Dorsey’s 1960s classic “Working in the Coalmine” to 2006’s “River in Reverse” with Elvis Costello, and including Dr. John, Patti LaBelle and Glen Campbell (“Southern Nights”).

There’s a great recent chapter to Toussaint’s career—as a solo performer and bandleader. This will be highlighted when he performs at Lincoln Center Out of Doors (8/11) and through the release of the CD/DVD set “Songbook,” due from Rounder September 24.

This latest chapter began in 2005. As writer Ashley Kahn explains in the liner notes to “Songbook”:

With a honed sense of dry humor, Toussaint calls 2005’s Hurricane Katrina his booking agent, crediting the storm for rebooting his career as a performer after flooding him out of home and studio. In order to recover – financially, musically, spiritually – Toussaint relocated to New York City and began to perform solo concerts, using Joe’s Pub on Lafayette Street as a home base. Buoyed by a groundswell of support, he worked at something that years of success in the studio had allowed him to avoid: getting truly comfortable on the stage by himself, laying claim to his own songs.

Modesty had a lot to do with it; Allen Toussaint still is not the first person one would go to for information on Allen Toussaint. “I’m not accustomed to talking about myself,” he once explained during a gig, “I talk in the studio with musicians. Or through my songs.”

And there’s some great, compact history included by Kahn in his track-by-track notes, like this bit:

With Toussaint, no experience was wasted, not even a two-year stint in the military that began in 1963. In ’64, he took his army band into the studio and under the name of The Stokes recorded “Whipped Cream,” a snappy instrumental with a jaunty horn line and a distinctive trumpet lead. Herb Alpert jumped on the melody a year later for the Tijuana Brass, recording it note-for-note, creating a hit single, a memorable album cover and a theme song for the TV sensation The Dating Game.

Toussaint talks about this in the DVD portion of “Songbook” (the CD documents two performances at Joe’s Pub, from 2009); he’ll also discuss it at Lincoln Center in a pre-concert interview with Nona Hendryx. Bill Bragin, who formerly programmed Joe’s Pub and who was responsible for Toussaint’s long residency there, produces this weekend’s Lincoln Center show. He formed a bond with the pianist as general manager of NYNO Records, which Toussaint founded in the 1990s with Joshua Feigenbaum. I’m sorry I’ll be out of town for this weekend’s performance and interview. But I’m about to dig into this new release, and I’m sure to speak at length with Toussaint about it.

Photo: Glade Bilby II




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