Allen Toussaint: American Tunes

2 Jul

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Celebrated pianist and song-writer Allen Toussaint died late last year. His final set, American Tunes, is assembled from a series of sessions from 2013 through 2015.

Despite its origins, American Tunes never feels like mixed bag, and constitutes a wonderfully focused, intimate set that never outstays its welcome.

Composed of a series of diverse covers, covering everyone from jazz greats Bill Evans (‘Waltz for Debby’) and Duke Ellington (‘Come Sunday’) to Professor Longhair (‘Hey Little Girl’) and Paul Simon, it is a welcome peak into Toussaint’s personal tastes, and talents as an interpreter. He even includes new instrumental version of ‘Southern Nights’ (most famously covered by country star Glen Campbell), which feels completely distinct from his original, psychedelic version.

The set ends with Toussaint’s cover of Simon’s ‘American Tune’. Accompanied by an acoustic guitar and his piano, it is a beautifully understated curtain closer that sums up the entire project.

All in all, American Tunes is a strong finale for one of New Orleans’ greatest musical talents.

 

By Tim George

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