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A Grammy favorite

November 27, 2009

On Wednesday, Billboard Magazine’s web site declared Allen Toussaint—New Orleans pianist, songwriter, arranger, and producer—a favorite for a 2010 Grammy nomination. Toussaint’s CD The Bright Mississippi, his first solo recording in a decade, takes the R&B legend into the realm of jazz, playing classics by Jelly Roll Morton, Django Reinhardt, Thelonious Monk, and Duke Ellington.

The Billboard article sent us listening to a recent conversation between Toussaint and Elvis Costello, which was broadcast in August on NPR’s Piano Jazz. In 2006, the two men recorded a Katrina-inspired CD called The River in Reverse; Costello calls Toussaint “the living embodiment of the rich musical heritage of the Crescent City.”

It’s a lovely, and sometimes emotional, interview because of the obvious ease Costello and Toussaint have in each other’s presence, and because of their musical collaboration in the immediate aftermath of the hurricane. (They recorded The River in Reverse as soon as a studio in New Orleans opened up again after Katrina.) During the interview, Toussiant performs such great songs as “Fortune Teller” (covered by the Rolling Stones), “Southern Nights” (covered by Glen Campbell), and “Tipitina” (written by Professor Longhair, a major influence on Toussaint). Two masters perform their joint creation “Ascension Day.” And Toussaint plays his song “Mother-in-Law” (see the post below) and talks about its origin as a religious hymn. Given a listen by clicking the “play” button below.

Photo above by larrybobsf, republished under a Creative Commons license.

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