With You In Mind
(Cool Green Recordings/Mascot Label Group)
The subtitle of this release is The Songs Of Allen Toussaint. You have likely heard more Toussaint numbers than you realise. Santana and Little Feat regarded him as a major writer and arranger. Towards the end of his life he made appearances in the UK and by luck or skill or a mixture of both, he had plenty of material to draw upon. Much of it was based upon the dextrous keyboard skills often found in the New Orleans coterie of musicians – the style is melodic, insistent, playful, catchy, soulful and colourful in equal measures, with the chordal patterns, modes and harmonic touches like suspensions and switching between major and minor virtually writing out
fruity horn charts to embellish the songs. This music is rich, but for the rich and poor and everyone in between. The second-line drumming often used adds to the stew. Perhaps this is the end of r & b that evidences most sophistication, without sacrificing pure soul. And any guitar player will tell you that it’s fun to play because Less Is More and the fills matter more than any solo’ing. (Yngwie might disagree!)
The quasi-Blue Note label artwork shows a piano and some charts. A bunch of star guests contribute and they include Trombone Shorty and Maceo Parker ..and Cyril Neville. Moore is renowned for TV scores and teaching, but he also drums with the group Galactic. For this project, prompted by Toussaint’s passing in 2015, the team even used some of the man’s rarely heard poetry, loaned to them by Allen’s son Reggie.
Here Come The Girls rides in on Iko Iko style percussion before the horns pump out the riff, it has Cyril and Shorty making the most of this old chest-beater with its smart chordal changes. Cool electric piano rolls along and a female chorale gets into the groove. Try keeping your feet still ! At @ 2:16 that trombone starts to growl..
Life features Cyril and is even funkier as regards tempo. Slinky piano brings a smooth jazz tinge. Java is an instrumental, popularised if memory serves back in the day by Al Hirt. The melody evokes a marching band and is so nostalgic. The group play it straight. The drummer does his own thing and it all works.
All These Things finds Jolynda Kiki Chapman stepping up to the mike and a late night performance is delivered, with a vocal that recalls Sarah Vaughan. The tune rules and this is rather special as a key cut in this collection.
Night People was once recorded by my late friend Robert Palmer, he loved Toussaint. It’s a busy piece with an insistent electric piano stabbing its way through the song and the horns in sharp slivers. Maceo is there, lurking like a pike in the reeds..no pun intended. The beat is steady but never quite settles, as befits the number. Parker’s solo hints at Charlie Parker here and there. The Beat has Neville back upfront and the initial beat probes its way into your conscience as the words are spoken. A voodoo ambience evolves, decorated with percussion touches. A spooky piece, altogether…
Riverboat is something of a NO classic tune and Nicholas Payton and Donald Harrison Jnr are in no hurry to get through it. Superb drums, like a relaxed Jack de Johnette ! Trumpet sounds of a ghostly nature seep out of the mix, like spells being cast. The warmer bridge sounds hypnotic. This might just be the jazziest track ever put out by this label !! The sax nods to Wayne Shorter. Lovely…
Everything I Do Gonna Be Funky features Maceo Parker again and boy does it swing, on an edgy funk beat that never lets up. Robben Ford loves this tune! He knows a groove when he hears one. With You In My Mind is gentle, poignant with soft piano slow dancing with the top line. If this doesn’t relax you, nothing will.
Southern Nights was once recorded by the great Glen Campbell has Payton back plus Wendell Pierce. After a poetry introduction, the ensemble cruises into earshot. Keeping the tempo as slow as they can, a fuzzy Hammond sighs the melody.
This could have been a brash affair with pop tunes banged out. But the players have an obvious love and respect for the maestro’s music. Toussaint kept it street, whatever he did and like Gil Scott Heron, we can and shall remember him that way.
All Photos credited to Marc Pagani
Stanton Moore’s new studio album ‘With You In Mind- The Songs Of Allen Toussaint’ is released on
21st July 2017 on Cool Green Recordings/Mascot Label Group.
You can pre-order the album here: http://bit.ly/2uHegRV