Sunday, June 6, 2010

Meet The Artist: Allen Toussaint

Musician Allen Toussaint (left) and critic/writer Bob Blumenthal appear to be talking simultaneously but actually were carefully listening to each other as Allen Toussaint described a mentor of his, Ernest Penn, describing "stride" piano style as "tents in my left hand and butterflies in my right hand." To which Professor Longhair added the "Junker Blues" style and Fats Domino had his first hit with "The Fat Man."

Allen Toussaint knows his New Orleans history and has been intimately involved in creating & continuing it for over 50 years. After the discussion, the evening's concert covered a lot of ground but really shined when it got down to basics, like the sublime version of St. James Infirmary with space between the notes big enough to dance through. Perfect.

The Michael Chorney Sextet (actually a Septet and even an Octet when singer Miriam Bernardo joined in) opened for Allen Toussaint & The Bright Mississippi and provided a set of Sun Ra, Kurt Weill and originals that were clear, rhythmic and full of quiet texture.

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