When Allen Toussaint unexpectedly passed away last November at the age of 77 during a European tour, it was reported that the great producer-arranger-composer-pianist had completed one final album. Nonesuch has confirmed the release of American Tunes on June 10, the culmination of one of the most remarkable careers in popular music.
American Tunes was recorded at two sets of sessions with producer Joe Henry: solo piano at Toussaint’s New Orleans home studio in 2013, and with the rhythm section of Jay Bellerose and David Piltch (joined by guest musicians Bill Frisell, Charles Lloyd, Greg Leisz, Rhiannon Giddens and Van Dyke Parks–in Los Angeles in October 2015. On his solo performances including “Mardi Gras in New Orleans,” “Hey Little Girl” and “Big Chief,” Toussaint pays tribute to his hero at the keys, New Orleans’ Professor Longhair. The album also features band arrangements of songs written and/or popularized by Toussaint (“Delores’ Boyfriend,” “Southern Nights”), Duke Ellington (“Come Sunday,” “Rocks in My Bed,” “Lotus Blossom”), Bill Evans (“Waltz for Debby”), Fats Waller (“(I’m) Confessin’ (That I Love You),” “Viper’s Drag”), Paul Simon (title track “American Tune”), and others.
Toussaint’s children and managers, Alison Toussaint-LeBeaux and Clarence Reginald Toussaint, have commented of American Tunes in Nonesuch’s press release, “Our father approached this project with great care and understanding of the songs selected and paid true homage to Professor Longhair, his musical hero. He wanted to bring as much of the Toussaint touch as he could to these wonderful classics.” American Tunes follows 2009’s The Bright Mississippi, also produced by Joe Henry for Nonesuch, in Toussaint’s discography.
This collection of American classics rendered with the distinctive Allen Toussaint flair will be released on CD, DD and vinyl on June 10. The double-vinyl LP release adds three bonus tracks: renditions of Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer’s “Moon River” and the Professor Longhair pair “Her Mind is Gone” and “Bald Head.” Amazon currently has pre-order links up for the digital edition which you can access below!
- Delores’ Boyfriend
- Viper’s Drag
- Confessin’ (That I Love You)
- Mardi Gras in New Orleans
- Lotus Blossom
- Waltz for Debby
- Big Chief
- Rocks in My Bed
- Danza, Op. 33
- Hey Little Girl
- Come Sunday
- Southern Nights
- American Tune
- Her Mind is Gone (Vinyl-Only Bonus Track)
- Moon River (Vinyl-Only Bonus Track)
- Bald Head (Vinyl-Only Bonus Track)