Allen Toussaint

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Ace songsmith Toussaint passes

Toussaint photo

Allen Toussaint, ace songsmith, arranger and producer, passed away November 10. He leaves a rich legacy, regrettably unsung beyond penning LaBelle’s comeback chart-topper “Lady Marmalade,” The Pointer Sisters’ “Yes We Can Can,” Glen Campbell’s “Southern Nights,” and the 1961 classic “Mother-In-Law” by Ernie K-Doe. “Fortune Teller” was recorded by a list of artists, including Robert Plant and Allison Kraus. Continue Reading →

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New Orleans trumpeter James Andrews at the Cowles Center

This is not your daddy’s New Orleans jazz.  It ain’t even  your granddaddy’s. We’re talking a new, improved take on big band music that picks up where the greats like Duke Ellington and Count Basie left off and swings it in a direction that while faithfully anchored in the classic form innovatively  breaks the mold. We’re talking a brilliant trumpet man and spirited singer James Andrews ( who brings his richly original style of Big Easy soul to the Twin Cities’ Cowles Center. Andrews is dubbed the Satchmo of the Ghetto and, indeed, his hero and main influence is the immortal Louis Armstrong. Continue Reading →

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Helen St. James lays down a winner

The guys were hunkered down in the studio lobby munching on sandwiches and chips, sipping beer. Cooling their heels, shooting the breeze. The last time they’d hung with Helen had been her send-off gig several weeks ago at Kenny’s Castaways in the West Village. It closed soon after and liars were already coming out of the walls, claiming they’d once upon a time played the venerated venue. Helen had, and the crowds had loved her. She strolled in wearing a baggy sweatsuit that covered up but couldn’t hide her fabulous full figure. Or her paunch. Didn’t have on a lick of makeup. Not even lipstick or eye-liner. Hair snatched back in a ponytail. She was going for comfort, not style. “Hey, fellas,” she called out with a broad grin. “We gonna get some work done around here or what?” The guys laughed. She smiled directly at Keith who, smiling back, shook his head, motioned her over to the couch, and sent the boys into the studio. Continue Reading →

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