Lord have mercy, I do love Allen Toussaint.
I admit to having never heard Allen Toussaint until high school, when I ordered a copy of the Band’s live album, Rock of Ages, and read in the liner notes that Mr. Toussaint had written all the horn charts. While the Band had always incorporated horns in their music, it was a trombone here and a sax there, usually courtesy of that paragon of musicality himself, their very own Garth Hudson. So they were a little trepidatious, naturally, about performing live with a horn section. But you can listen to Rock of Ages yourself to see how that worked out. Perfectly. The swampy Southern sound of their songs was only enhanced by the Dixieland horns Mr. Toussaint added. It was dynamite.
So anyway, that’s how I arrived at Allen Toussaint’s music. He’s a genius, in case you didn’t know. He produced umpteen New Orleans bands during the 60s and early 70s, and wrote songs that were recorded by everybody under the sun.
But I prefer to hear the songs by Mr. Toussaint himself. Here are a few of my favorites…
“From a Whisper to a Scream” has been recorded numerous times, but no one does it as elegantly and yet soulfully as Allen Toussaint. The way he says “oh my love” just gives me chills up and down my spine. Now you tell me – what red-blooded woman could leave that man?
This song just sounds like what I think New Orleans should sound like. I love the way the rhythm goes from jerky to smooth, jerky to smooth, just like a train does. And the horns – don’t even get me started on the horns.
This one just because it reminds me of my onliest Sugar Dumplin…