Allen Toussaint (from the album American Tunes on Nonesuch Records) - Allen Toussaint completed work on American Tunes shortly before his death on November 9, 2016, the title track the final recording for the session. Allen’s voice walks along in the song as the instrumentation falls in place behind his delivery, rising like the city he helped come back from disaster. Allen Toussaint lost his home and studio to the hurricane winds and flooding form Katrina. He moved to New York City, becoming a voice and advocate for New Orleans, its culture and its music. American Tunes spins a wheel around decades of jazzy Blues as Allen Toussaint performs tracks from heroes with Fats Waller’s “Viper's Drag”, and peers with Professor Longhair’s “Mardi Gras in New Orleans”.
The piano of Allen Toussaint is the star of American Tunes as his fingers run over the somber notes of Duke Ellington’s “Come Sunday” with Rhiannon Giddens joining on vocals. He works a NOLA rhythm into taps and trills for Earl King’s “Big Chief”, and mourns closing time with the after-hours Blues of Earl Hines’ “Rosetta”. Allen Toussaint unlocks every key in his piano with intuitive playing on American Tunes. Van Dyke Parks ads his own piano parts to complement Allen Toussaint in a version of his hit, “Southern Nights”.