Duke Ellington titled a composition of his “Villesville Is The Place, Man” and a very cool place it is. I would think “Toussaintville” is the same hip place to be, especially if you are Allen Toussaint, New Orleans performer, composer, arranger, producer and all around Rennaisance cat. Toussaint has provided hit songs for so many artists and his writing transcends musical genres.
Swingadelic often gets called on as a repertoire band and I thought I’d like to do Toussaint tunes in honor of the man’s 75th birthday (January 11, 2013). When I told ZOHO label owner Joachim Becker about the project, he was immediately enthusiastic. The band was into it as well and all of the musicians became very involved, freeing up their busy schedules and contributing arrangements. Leading this ensemble of talented musicians has been one of the principal joys of my life. The musicians come from backgrounds in jazz, blues, country, klezmer, Latin music and rock’n’roll and I truly believe that these varied experiences somehow makes the band greater than the sum of its parts and gives us our identity and sound. And each and every one of them is a beautiful cat!
So here we present the musical geography of Toussaintville, and I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.
1. Night People - arranged by Rob Edwards, vocal John. I love the sentiment of this song. There is such a different world out there at night and this tunes celebrates the folks that inhabit it. Check out the Lee Dorsey version for pure unadulterated funk & joy.
2. Southern Nights – arranged and sung by John. Country star Glen Campbell took Toussaint’s ethereal version of this tune and turned it into quite the pop (and biggest country) hit of 1977.
3. What Do You Want The Girl To Do – arranged and sung by John Bauers. I was about twenty-two when the Boz Scaggs album “Silk Degrees” came out, and man, you heard this on the radio everywhere. Bonnie Raitt and others subsequently did this, but Boz’s version will always be stuck up in my gray matter.
4. Yes We Can Can – arranged by Audrey. Audrey supplied this joyous song that came to my attention via the Pointer Sisters in 1973 I think Lee Dorsey may have done this first, but its been kept alive by Young-Holt Unlimited, Harry Connick and many others.
5. On Your Way Down – arranged by Paul Carlon, vocal by Neal. Prodigal son and beautiful cat Neal Pawley started this band with me in 1998 and he’s re-surfaced to sing this gem that is probably most well known from the Little Feat recording. I’ve been digging on Trombone Shorty’s version lately.
6. Java – arranged by John. This tune was a smash hit (#4 in 1964) for New Orleans trumpet star Al Hirt and put Toussaint on the international map. Named after a racehorse!
7. Ruler Of My Heart – arranged by Dave Post, vocal by Queen Esther. The 60’s had a tradition of “answer” songs. Otis Redding’s “Pain In My Heart” was the answer to Irma Thomas’ “Ruler Of My Heart.” We are so honored to have NYC royalty Queen Ester join us on this.
8. Get Out My Life Woman – arranged by Dave Post. Solos by Boo & Carlos. I have more recordings of this than of any other Toussaint song. I first recall it by the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, whom I was a big fan of as a teen. Solomon Burke has a funky version and Toussaint’s own is classic. I sorta modeled this after hearing the Grasella Oliphant cut.
9. Sneaking Sally Through The Alley – arranged by Paul Carlon, vocal John. Originally recorded by New Orleans legend Lee Dorsey, Robert Palmer had a hit with this and the jam band Phish often includes it in their live show.
10. Everything I Do Got To Be Funky – arranged by Rob Susman. Simultaneous trombone solos by entrance, Susman, Edwards & Pawley. At least a dozen bands have recorded this jam, among them the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, O’Donel Levy and Peter Wolf. I’m partial to Lou Donaldson’s version because he’s a monster alto legend and a funny cat!
11. Working In A Coal Mine – arranged by Rob Edwards, vocal John. Another big hit for Lee Dorsey, but recently nicely done by Harry Connick. The 80’s band Devo had a quirky hit with it as well. “Lord, I’m soooo tired!”
12. Whipped Cream – arranged by Paul Carlon. Herb Alpert was already popular when he recorded this Toussaint tune in 1965, but “Whipped Cream and Other Delights” was a zillion seller and the most iconic album cover ever. Who from my generation can’t recall the Whipped Cream girl?
13. Whipped Cream – arranged by Paul Carlon. Herb Alpert was already popular when he recorded this Toussaint tune in 1965, but “Whipped Cream and Other Delights” was a zillion seller and the most iconic album cover ever. Who from my generation can’t recall the Whipped Cream girl?
14. Up The Creek – arranged by Dave Post. Not as well known as the others, this is from 1958’s “The Wild Sounds of Al Tousan.” I guess the label changed his name for easier pronunciation. It was recorded as a bouncy little tune in three that we slowed down and tried to give it more of a gospel feel. Rob Susman on bone.
15. Mr. Toussaint – arranged and sung by John Bauers. Solos by Neal & Audrey. The only non-Tousaint tune on here, John wrote this tribute to the author of all the other songs on this CD and a fine job he did.