Allen Toussaint, Nachito Herrera | Maurer Hall, Old Town School of Folk Music | Rock, Pop, Etc, Jazz | Chicago Reader

Allen Toussaint, Nachito Herrera Recommended All Ages Early Warnings (Music) Soundboard

When: Sat., Sept. 26, 7 & 10 p.m. 2009

It’s impossible to overstate the importance of Allen Toussaint to the history of music in New Orleans—and, by extension, in the rest of the country. A songwriter, pianist, arranger, and producer, he was a one-man hub of musical activity in the Crescent City during the 60s and 70s. Though he’s most fluent in soul and funk, other threads run through his work, including rhythms from rock and Afro-Cuban music, and on his latest album, The Bright Mississippi (Nonesuch), producer Joe Henry convinced him to explicitly address jazz, particularly early New Orleans jazz—a style he internalized long ago. Joined on the front line by trumpeter Nicholas Payton and clarinetist Don Byron, Toussaint struts and strolls through chestnuts like “St. James Infirmary” and “West End Blues” as well as more modern fare like Monk’s “Bright Mississippi.” The record never sounds retro, though, partly because the rhythm section has a sly, off-kilter snap, but mostly because Toussaint injects his own innate sense of gulf-coast funk and grit into his sparse vamps and rollicking solos. He leads his own New Orleans sextet here. Nachito Herrera opens. —Peter Margasak

Price: $28, $26 members, $24 seniors and kids

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