In the alarming recent roll call of pop-music giants prematurely biting the dust it’s inevitable that two of its most outrageous characters – David Bowie and Prince – were the recipients of the seemingly endless communal sob.
Allen Toussaint – whose death last November failed to make the TV news was an unostentatious personality but American music is unthinkable without his contribution.
A quiet back-room legend Toussaint is integral to more than half a century of New Orleans music as a producer arranger and writer of many great songs including ‘Working In The Coalmine’ – ‘Ride Your Pony’ and ‘Southern Nights’.
On American Tunes an album completed just a month before his death while on tour in Europe Toussaint performs his own version of the Great American Songbook – revisiting a few of his own compositions along with a surprising array of innovators – including his own hero of New Orleans piano Professor Longhair and stretching right back through jazz and blues history to Duke Ellington and the juicy swing of Fats Waller.
For those who associate Toussaint with the funky grooves of 60s and 70s New Orleans music – the breadth and scope of American Tunes might just be a revelation as is his inclusiveness.