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Allen Toussaint

Last Friday Dr. John and the Nite Trippers played SF Jazz to a sold out audience. Along with Allen Toussaint, Dr. John is the personification of New Orleans music and culture. The history of the music, and The City, breathes through him. I am blessed to have grown up in a time when his music was on the AM radio when I was a child. Like many geniuses, he would probably be more obscure had he been born at a later time. (I doubt Hendrix or the Cream would get much airplay were they starting out today). I've seen him many times, and even though getting on in years, this was one of his very best shows. Earthy, funky, dark, and uplifting, all at the same time. The band was a revelation: Sarah Morrow on vocals and trombone was a perfect foil and mc; her trombone playing every bit as authoritative as Trombone Shorty. In mini dress and thigh high go go boots, no less. David Yoke on guitar and Bobby Floyd on B3 were soulful and funky, Dwight Bailey on bass was solid and authentic. But Reggie Jackson on drums was the true revelation. Also getting on in years, and from Treme` - not just New Orleans, but Treme`, his incredible syncopation and feel could only come from someone born in that district. Amazing!

Last Saturday the great New Orleans composer, pianist, and vocalist Allen Toussaint played the Miner Auditorium.  If we give the first half of the 20th century to the Gershwins, Rogers and Hart and Hammerstein, Cole Porter, Jimmy Van Heusen, Jerome Kern, and the other creators of the Great American Song Book, there is no more influential songwriter for the second half of the century than Allen Toussaint.  With equal amounts of Eurpean classical (particularly Mozart and the romantics) blues, gospel, jazz, New Orleans second line, and a swamp funk that he virtually invented, Toussaint is the embodiment of American music.  A consumate showman, twirling around the stage in his multi-colored tux, at one point throwing Mardi Gras toys to the audience, he made the two hour concert deem very brief indeed.  And it takes two hours to cover most, if not all, of his hits.  Perhaps the best way to illistrate the magnatude of his influence is to list some of his songs, and ask you to think of all the artists that covered them:  Java, Whipped Cream, A Certain Girl, Fortune Teller, Get Out of My Life, Woman, Working in a Coal Mine, Sneakin' Sally through the Alley, Yes We Can, Night People, and Southern Nights.  As with all great artists, the entire history of the music channels through him, leading us on to the future.  

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