January 30 2012
Telling the Rhythm & Blues story of New Orleans has inadvertently been a meditation of some of America’s best piano players. Professor Longhair is the one everybody had to study to get the sound right. Fats Domino popularized the sound. And Allen Toussaint kept it from getting old, carrying the sound into the 70’s and 80’s. In fact, his behind-the-scenes contributions to the NO R&B sound alone are enough to warrant a place in the hall of fame.
If the story of music is also about lineage, Allen Toussaint certainly fits. He started playing piano at age 7, emulating Professor Longhair of course. He grew from there to include elements of Huey “Piano” Smith and Fats Domino. In fact, he got his break filling in for Fats on a session Fats couldn’t make. Dave Bartholomew however, was the one who gave him regular work, and passed along the skills Toussaint would use to become a latter-day Dave Bartholomew; a producer, arranger, songwriter and soloist capable of guiding a whole generation and shaping the sound of a city. Allen Toussaint here for the MGM with one of his early gems, an infectious little boogie number called “Nashua”
Allen Toussaint "Nashua"
Last Friday we heard how Allen Toussaint helped continue the legacies of Professor Longhair, Fats Domino and Dave Bartholomew into a new era. While he did that in several ways, he was most important to the careers of several artists who have in turn created their own legends.
The Meters got their start with Toussaint, as did Lee Dorsey. Lee Dorsey epitomized the loose, easygoing charm of New Orleans R&B more than any other artist of the '60s. Working with legendary Crescent City producer Allen Toussaint, Dorseymade good-time party tunes with a sense of humor and a twangy, funky backbeat. Even if he's remembered chiefly for the signature hit "Working in a Coalmine," it was a remarkably consistent and winning combination for the vast majority of his recording career.
We wrapped last week up with fresh lil number Toussaint wrote just for him. The Song also features the young Neville Brothers who are on the first inch of their career as The Meters. It’s “Ride Your Pony” on The Mardi Gras Moment…
Lee Dorsey "Ride Your Pony"