Toussaintville

Released: 2012
Label: ZOHO Music

1. Night People
2. Southern Nights
3. What Do You Want The Girl To Do
4. Yes We Can Can
5. On Your Way Down
6. Java
7. Ruler Of My Heart
8. Get Out My Life Woman
9. Sneaking Sally Through The Alley
10. Everything I Do Gonna Be Funky
11. Working In A Coal Mine
12. Whipped Cream
13. Fair Child
14. Up The Creek
15. Mr. Toussaint

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In some respects, Swingadelic is ideally suited for making tribute albums.
To that effect, in 2011, the Hoboken, New Jersey-based ensemble released a CD that commemorated the accomplishments of the late Blue Note Records A&R Director, college professor and prolific trumpeter/keyboardsman, Calvin "Duke" Pearson Jr. As was the case with Pearson, Swingadelic understood that academia and technique alone only paint a partial portrait of an artist's musical mission statement. But like Pearson, Swingadelic prevailed upon themselves to make certain that the essential components of heart and passion also factored into their own endeavors. Each did so with a basic understanding of and respect for the tried and true verse, chorus and bridge template in a field where such attributes are occasionally in short supply, which spoke volumes for their ability to equally emphasize both the big picture and the minutiae.
That the twelve-member band chose the work of the genial and immensely respected composer, pianist, arranger, vocalist and Gert Town, Louisiana native, Allen R. Toussaint for their latest collection is at once a testimony to both their understanding of the subtle nuances of his work, as well as their apparent enthusiasm for maintaining a multi-genre perspective.
Although such greats as the Throb, Ernie K. Doe, B.J. Thomas, the Showmen and the O'Jays were each blessed (aesthetically and otherwise) by recording Toussaint's material, the majority of his successes as a composer came with the renditions of his songs by the late, great New Orleans, Louisiana native, Irving "Lee" Dorsey on Amy, Polydor and ABC Paramount Records. Those cuts comprise a significant portion of the Toussaint compositions that are featured in this collection.
Of those, Get Out Of My Life Woman is one of the most recognizable Toussaint-penned tracks amongst rock and soul enthusiasts, having also been covered by the Lost Souls, the Mad Lads, the Leaves, the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, the Doors, Solomon Burke and others. Swingadelic rises to the occasion accordingly with a sublime instrumental treatment that states the case as well as a version that included Toussaint's vivid lyrical imagery would express it.
Likewise, Dorsey’s Night People, Yes We Can, Sneakin' Sally Through The Alley and Everything I Do Gonh Be Funky (From Now On) each benefit from Swingadelic's ability to capture and reinterpret key components of each piece in their own element as a band, as Dorsey uniformly did with his own highly distinctive vocal persona. This attribute is most readily apparent in their rendition of Dorsey's 1966 signature track, Working In The Coal Mine, which celebrates the solidarity between the rock, soul and jazz camps with as much seeming effortlessness as did such artists as Wes Montgomery, Richard "Groove" Holmes, the Ramsey Lewis Trio and Stanley Turrentine at the time that Dorsey’s rendition was released.
However, where Swingadelic really soars on this collection is with the "one off" projects. That is, the Toussaint triumphs that were recorded by artists who didn’t draw from his expertise extensively as Dorsey did. To wit, Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass' version of Whipped Cream (which Toussaint penned under the pseudonym Naomi Neville) was upbeat, precise, technically perfect and totally engaging, as was the case with the vast majority of that band’s output. Swingadelic basically plays it straight, albeit with a slight Dixieland edge. The variation is subtle, yet effective.
In turn, their impression of Irma Thomas’ Ruler Of My Heart brings the piece full circle with a Queen Esther lead vocal, while concurrently engaging the basic template of Otis Redding's answer song, Pain In My Heart. The band really drives the genre hopping concept home with Glen Campbell’s great Southern Nights, turning it into a dreamscape adventure that allows various band members to soar in a solo capacity.
Perhaps no track exemplifies Toussaint’s remarkable gifts as a composer to a greater degree than does the monster classic instrumental, Java. RCA Victor label mates Floyd Cramer and Al Hirt both turned in impeccable versions of it, with each sublimely expressing the inherent exuberance, joy and passion indigenous to the piece. All of which would make a tall order for a band steeped in the rudiments of technique, had they not been able to incorporate into it the aforementioned prerequisite attributes of passion and heart. Swingadelic herein rose to the occasion accordingly and delivered the highlight of the proceedings.
If indeed there is any one concern and/or track for which Swingadelic can be taken to task here, it is perhaps the undercurrent of the "N" word that can be found in the opening verses of the lone original contribution, pianist John Bauers' Mr. Toussaint. Indeed, the "N" word (that is, nostalgia) is anathema to great music and art, which is, by definition, timeless and has little use for such periphery as chronology, geography and the personal revisionist history of the listener. Yet while the lyrics briefly digress as such with references to "they (Toussaint's records) take me back" and "play Cupid for me with some southern darling", Bauers himself and trombonists Neal Pawley, Rob Susman and Rob Edwards more than compensate with a gradual crescendo that eventually resolves the matter by capturing the essence of Toussaint's vision.
Indeed, Toussaintville is an unlikely tribute project, which makes its release all the more welcome. Easily the most engaging of their seven albums issued to date.

-Michael McDowell, Blitz Magazine, August 2013

The music Alan Toussaint is instantly recognizable and enjoyed across genres and decades. Swingadelic is ostensibly a swinging big band, but brings enough pop, funk, and New Orleans second-line sound to their mix to make their songs infectious to all music lovers. Together the combination is a big gumbo pot of fun sure to bring a party!
Allen Toussaint's music, which has been performed by everyone from Irma Thomas to Little Feat, is all about feeling. When done right, Toussaint's songs take on a funky depth that’s rare in pop music. But in the hands of the wrong musicians, these songs can become generic, the type of music that wide-eyed tourists expect to hear on every New Orleans street corner.
Swingadelic is a 14-piece band of New York jazz musicians who clearly get a kick out of Toussaint's music. On Toussaintville, they mostly succeed in their sleek interpretations, bringing a touch of Big Apple sophistication to the proceedings.
John Bauers, who sings most of these songs and even contributes the album’s only non-Toussaint composition, does a great job on classics like 'Sneakin Sally Through the Alley' and 'Working in a Coal Mine.' Other highlights include the instrumental takes of 'Get Out of My Life, Woman' and 'Everything I Do Gonna Be Funky,' where the musicians get to let loose and show off their considerable chops. All in all, this is a fun and funky album that puts its own spin on the Toussaint songbook.
Alan Toussaint is one of those names in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame that have many people saying 'huh'? Yet they have definitely heard his music and felt the influence of his work. Songs like Southern Nights, Working in the Coal Mine, Fortune Teller, Get Out of My Life Woman, and others have been covered by everyone from the Rolling Stones to Al Hirt to The Who to Robert Palmer to Robert Plant & Alison Kraus. The Yardbirds had success with a rocking version of 'A Certain Girl' , and Toissant produced the hit song 'Lady Marmalade'.
Swingadelic is a New York group but brings a great second-line feel and New Orleans authenticity to the songs. The arrangements are solid and feel genuine – this is music these guys love and love to play. I have to confess that when I read the description of a big band playing a set of cover songs, my first thought was 'snooze-fest'. But I couldn't have been more wrong – Night People starts with a solid groove, a bar-crawling tenor sax growl, and launches into some booty-shaking harmonies and funky-sleazy vocal groove. I was smiling before a minute had gone by – oh, yeah... this is good stuff!
If I had to pick a criticism, it would be that on occasion the vocals feel a little ‘over the top’ and break into the ‘cheesy’ realm. Not enough to ruin any song or lessen the impact of the recording, but it was definitely the low-point for me.
I ended up enjoying this album much more than I expected – it combines classic New Orleans with a more modern funk-groove feel, big band sound with small group vibe, and maintains a sense of fun throughout.

-Michael Anderson, Gear Diary, August 2013

Allen Toussaint’s music, which has been performed by everyone from Irma Thomas to Little Feat, is all about feeling. When done right, Toussaint’s songs take on a funky depth that’s rare in pop music. But in the hands of the wrong musicians, these songs can become generic, the type of music that wide-eyed tourists expect to hear on every New Orleans street corner.
Swingadelic is a 14-piece band of New York jazz musicians who clearly get a kick out of Toussaint’s music. On Toussaintville, they mostly succeed in their sleek interpretations, bringing a touch of Big Apple sophistication to the proceedings.
John Bauers, who sings most of these songs and even contributes the album’s only non-Toussaint composition, does a great job on classics like “Sneakin Sally Through the Alley” and “Working in a Coal Mine.” Other highlights include the instrumental takes of “Get Out of My Life, Woman” and “Everything I Do Gonna Be Funky,” where the musicians get to let loose and show off their considerable chops. All in all, this is a fun and funky album that puts its own spin on the Toussaint songbook.

-Sam Ferguson, Offbeat Magazine, August 2013

BIG BANDS! Swingadelic: Toussaintville
Legendary pianist/composer Allan Toussaint is given a fitting tribute on this collection of Big Easy tunes performed by the Swingadelic. Funk and good times are a plenty here, as they take songs you've heard in various genres by a myriad of artists ranging from Lee Dorsey to the Pointer Sisters to Glen Campbell and give them the Crescent City gumbo. Some tunes like "Night People" have a gritty vocal by John Bauers, while Queen Esther lets loose during "On Your Way Down." A heavy back beat is featured on "Yes We Can Can" that will get under your skin, and a slithery "Whipped Cream" is gorgeously frothy. Hits like "Working In A Coal Mine" and "Sneaking Sally Through The Alley" sound completely timeless here, and sound much more like they're "supposed" to sound. Bon Ton Roulet!

-George W. Harris, Jazz Weekly, July 11th 2013

This is such a good idea that, in retrospect, I wonder why it hasn't happened before. Take a 13-piece band with a seriously stocked horn section and record a tribute to the great New Orleans singer-songwriter-producer Allen Toussaint. Bandleader and bassist Dave Post explains that it's to celebrate Toussaint's 75th birthday (this past January). Virtually all of Toussaint's best known pieces are here, from the happy, funky opener "Night People" to the mellow "Southern Nights" and "What Do You Want the Girl To Do?" Queen Esther sings Irma Thomas' classic "Ruler of My Heart" with soulful conviction. This is a New York area band, and the horn charts are written with more of a classic big band feel, as opposed to recreating the indigenous style of New Orleans horns, which turns the album into something more than just an imitation of the originals. If there's ever a volume 2, I vote for "Freedom for the Stallion," "Play Something Sweet (Brickyard Blues)" and "Shoo-Ra."

-Martin Kasdan, Louisville Music News, July 2nd 2013

New Orleans is richly steeped in great music and musicians. Allen Toussaint is one of those gifted performers out of New Orleans. He is a composer, arranger, producer and he has written hit songs for many artists. The CD Toussaintville is a tribute to the 75 year old music legend. The album is filled with 15 songs that make you think, dance, laugh and have a good time. Three of those songs were big hits including: Southern Nights for Glen Campbell, Java for trumpeter Al Hirt and Yes We Can Can for the Pointer Sisters.
Swingadelic has so many talented musicians including: Audrey Welber on alto sax and clarinet, Paul Corlon on tenor and soprano sax, Jeff Hackworth on tenor and baritone sax, John DiSanto on baritone sax, Albert Leusink on trumpet, Carlos Francis also on trumpet, Rob Susman on trombone, Rob Edwards on trombone, Neal Pawley also on trombone, Boo Reiners on guitar, John Bauers on vocals, piano and organ, Dave Post on bass, Jason Pharr on drums and Jimmy Coleman also on drums. They all add to the rich, bluesy, jazzy and funky sound of this album.
Neal Pawley does vocals on On Your Way Down, which is great song. Queen Esther does a great job on Ruler of My Heart and Rob Paparozzi lends his voice on Fairchildand John Bauers sings on five of the tracks, including: Night People, Southern Nights andWorking In A Coal Mine. This is an album to have in your collection. I am certainly glad to have it mine.

-Oscar Brooks, Examiner.com, May 27th 2013

The works of New Orleans master composer/producer/pianist Allen Toussaint get the “little big band” treatment from this 14-piece-plus-vocalists NYC-based outfit. Not surprisingly, charts are the predominant factor with an ensemble this size and these New Yorkers clearly have their own take on this classic material, recasting it Gotham-style. Tasty offerings include “Yes We Can Can”, “Get Out Of My Life, Woman” and “Working A Coal Mine”.

Duane Verh, Roots Music Report, May 19th 2013

New Orleans and music go together like jambalaya, crayfish pie, and filet gumbo. Allen Toussaint is part of that wonderful New Orleans musical tradition and the tight little big band Swingadelic do right by him, with their release Toussaintville.
In this fifteen-track session, which is a delightful mixture of instrumental and vocal offerings, the band demonstrates that it knows its way around the Toussaint song book, giving each track the right amount of funky-soul sound that is evocative of the Big Easy. While not every tune that Toussaint penned was instantly memorable, nevertheless there are many that became hits. One such track is “Southern Nights” on which John Bauers’ vocal captures the essence of the tune. Bauers follows this up with “What Do You Want The Girl To Do” which swings along with heartfelt emotion. Another wicked vocal track is the soulful “Ruler Of My Heart” on which Queen Esther lays bare her feelings.
“Get Out Of My Life, Woman” lets guitarist Boo Reiners and trumpeter Carlos Francis get down and dirty with a solid groove supported by a strong back beat delivered by drummer Jimmy Coleman. In a somewhat more raucous vein “Everything I Do Got To Be Funky “gives trombonists Susman, Edwards, and Pawley a chance to make their own statement. One of Toussaint’s biggest hits was “Whipped Cream” which Herb Alpert took to the top of the charts in 1965. The version offered here is more “whipped” and less “cream”. All in all, the album is a fitting tribute to one of New Orleans’ musical icons.

-Pierre Giroux, Audophile Audition, May 17 2013

One of the most surprisingly imaginative CDs to cross my desk in some time is Swingadelic's Toussaintville (Zoho). The album—released today—pays tribute to the songs of Allen Toussaint [pictured], who turned 75 in January. The music is an intelligent and swinging fusion of big band jazz and soul-pop.
The album not only skillfully reminds the listener of Toussaint's important contribution as a composer of top pop hits—Southern Nights, What Do You Want the Girl to Do, Sneaking Sally Through the Alley and Whipped Cream—but also does so through a jazz prism, never losing an ounce of Toussaint's earthy intent.
Mind you, this isn't an album of horns that come off like an awards show orchestra or a funky cruise ship band. These charts truly are fetching and respectful, retaining Toussaint's New Orleans power and passion.
Produced by bassist Dave Post, the album was arranged by Post and various members of the orchestra. In total, there are 14 musicians on each of the 15 tracks, including four saxes, two trumpets and three trombones plus a five-chair rhythm section. Vocals are handled by four different singers.
Swingadelic is known informally as New York's greatest little big band. While they do weddings, don't hold it against them. A band has to eat, and this album shows no traces of garters, tossed bouquets or a first dance. Swingadelic began in 1998 when Post brought together musician friends to play swing engagements at New York City's supper clubs. Swingadelic has also performed at Lincoln Center's Midsummer Night Swing, NJPAC, and at many other local festivals.
This album is quite a departure for the band, particularly how the charts are scored. If you're unfamiliar with Toussaint [pictured], this is a good introduction. It's just big sophisticated fun, with one foot in the big bands and the other in the Big Easy.

-Marc Myers, JazzWax.com, May 14th 2013

SWINGADELIC has played at Jazzfest a couple of times, and their robust mix of swing, jazz, R’nB and soul always brings an enthusiastic response from the audience. Excitement is probably the word that best describes the atmosphere that they create. Their new recording, Toussaintville (Zoho – 201306) is a collection of songs written by the New Orleans legend Allen Toussaint. Toussaint has written songs made popular by a variety of pop and soul artists. Dave Post, bassist and leader of the band, has detailed in the liner notes the lineage of each selection. Pianist John Bauers handles most of the vocals, and his style is well suited to this material. Swingadelic has a terrific ensemble sound, and is loaded with cats who take full advantage of their solo opportunities. I would not classify this album as jazz, but it is one that is full of energy, and will not let you sit still for any extended period of time.

-Joe Lang, Jersey Jazz, June 2013 Issue

A fun, party vibe emanates from this tribute to New Orleans piano and songwriting legend Allen Toussaint from the New York-based Swingadelic. Clever, in the pocket arrangements cohesively performed with a robust flair shed light on the talents of one of the most underrated icons of American music. A host of vocalists, mainly the raspy John Bauers, bring out the plaintive zest of Toussaint's lyrics in such tunes as "Southern Nights" and "What Do You Want the Girl to Do?"

-John Barron, The Jazz Word, April 7th 2013

Alan Toussaint this year turned 75, and he's been a highly respected figure on the soul side of the rock, jazz, and blues house for many years, making his way not only into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame but also the Louisiana version. His work's been covered by everyone under the sun—the Who, Ringo Starr, Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, the Rolling Stones, the O'Jays, Jerry Garcia, Devo, Bo Diddley, the Pointer Sisters, and so many others that I'd be here half the night naming them all—and you, dear reader are quite familiar with more than a few of his many hits: Working in the Coalmine, Fortune Teller, Play Something Sweet (Brickyard Blues), Get Out of My Life, Woman, What Do You Want the Girl to Do?…again, so many that my poor typoholic fingers would bleed to name them all. High time, then, that he was tributized in the manner the big band Swingadelic is pursuing.
Most of the oeuvre here is vocal—just four out of fifteen cuts are instrumentals: Java, Get Out My Life, Woman, Everything I Do Gonna be Funky, and Yes We Can Can (which the Pointer Sisters sang like nobody's business in the outrageously righteous but almost unknown Live in Africa VHS release, and DON'T get the DVD!, muddy sound, get the VHS IF you can)—with John Bauers taking the helm in a breezy cool-cat fashion, the boys in the band fashioning a funky, brassy, too-hip environment all around him. Boo Reiners executes an out-RAY-jussssss guitar solo in On Your Way Down, one that'll have Jeff Beck lying awake nights, wondering why the hell he didn't come up with it first, and the cavorting horn section in the just-mentioned Java and elsewhere will be tickling your jazz funny bone from fingertips to shoulder, set off by a Spike Jonesy unnamed someone on banjo (my guess? it's Boo again).
This smooth as silk outing's on the Zoho label, and if you were as stunned as I was by the recent Leo Brouwer (here) and Botti/Ziegler (here) releases, Toussaintville is just what ya need to come down from those stratospherically sophisticated CDs, landing your feet back on the sun-warmed concrete and tarmac of New Orleans, grabbing a Long Island Iced Tea while jangling a jungle of gaudy plastic necklaces around your neck, a very loud tropical shirt, and a pair of swamp-treader cut-offs. The tropical sway and midnight strut factors alone are the height of neon hipstering, Mr. Bauers emceeing every twist and turn, so don't feel like it would be inappropriate to act up 'n git down. That's why the whole thing was put together.
And, oh, to the side of all that, all those songs over the years credited to a "Naomi Neville", two of which appear here? That's Allen too. He was getting out from under some legal nonsense or other. The guy knew how to sidle past the front office idiots better than most and came to take over a hell of a lot of production duties that, had one of those brick-brained accountant nephews of the swindlers and cut-purses in the penthouse suites tackled, would've turned to the sort of merde (pardonnez-moi mon francais) we see far too much of already in the charts Toussaint strove to class up. We still need more of that. A lot more.

-Mark S. Tucker, Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange, April 22nd 2013

A fun, party vibe emanates from this tribute to New Orleans piano and songwriting legend Allen Toussaint from the New York-based Swingadelic. Clever, in the pocket arrangements cohesively performed with a robust flair shed light on the talents of one of the most underrated icons of American music. A host of vocalists, mainly the raspy John Bauers, bring out the plaintive zest of Toussaint's lyrics in such tunes as "Southern Nights" and "What Do You Want the Girl to Do?"

-John Barron, The Jazz Word, April 7th 2013

Swingadelic is groove-a-licious!
Duke Ellington titled one of his compositions "Villesville Is The Place, Man." Living here in Louisville this of course caught my eye. "Toussaintville" would have to be the same hip place to be (unlike Louisville) given the work of legendary performer, composer, arranger and producer Allen Toussaint. In interesting parallel of sorts is that both Ellington and Toussaint wrote music that transcended time, space and the genre of the day. You can count on one hand the number of artists with this type of talent today.
Swingadelic is often referred to as a repertoire band. Sorry folks...they are BUT a better description may be a jazz collective with an innate ability to find a groove and ride it for all it is worth. Groove is in the heart so in honor of Allen Toussaint's 75th birthday they decided to spread the wealth around just a touch covering tunes from Glenn Campbell's 1977 pop country smash "Southern Nights" to "What Do You Want The Girl To Do?" I love Boz Scaggs as well as the next Independent critic however it is an accepted fact some tunes make the jazz transition well while others self destruct normally due to bad production and even worse arrangements. "Sneaking Sally Though The Alley" is well known for Robert Palmer crashing the pop glass ceiling as well as the jam band Phish. Proving? You can take the same tune under different circumstances and having a variety of results. Was it genre? Was it strength of the tine? You decide.
Call Tossaint's music what ever makes you sleep better at night. Swingadelic is a repertoire band but the combination here is off the hook. From the surreal cover photography to the last note played on Mr. Toussaint, this is a musical feast for the senses.
4 out of 5 Stars. A winner!

-Brent Black, Critical Jazz Blog, April 13th 2013

For those new to this sound and this CD Swingadelic is one of the leading swing-jazz-blues "little big bands" from the New York area. And if this is your introduction to their talent and sound, then there couldn't be a better one. On this recording they pay tribute to Allen Toussaint, an American musician, composer, record producer, and influential figure in New Orleans R&B. The many tunes here are the creations of Toussaint - some very well known such as `Java' and `Working in a Coal Mine' and other only tangentially known so far - but the arrangements are clearly those of Swingadelic specialties.

-Grady Harp, Amazon mp3, April 13th 2013

It may not take a lot for a New York band to honor the music, culture, and community of New Orleans, but when it is done nice and proper, it is worthy of attention. Swingadelic honor not only the music of New Orleans, but the memory and work of Allen Toussaint in Toussaintville (Zoho) with the kind of passionate groove that is sure to make the city proud.
That's one of the most important things on this album: groove, and each song is packed with it. You'll hear nice covers of "Southern Nights", "Yes We Can Can", "Working In A Coal Mine", "Sneaking Sally Through The Alley", and "Fairchild" among many, each song being made popular by a number of artists and essentially becoming anthems in their own right. They honor not only the songwriting and musicianship of the hit versions, but also the ways of the New Orleans men and women who influenced these songs and gave them its personalities. The 14-piece Swingadelic definitely aren't sleeping in any of these songs, with horn arrangements that are super tight and rhythm sections that will make you want to roam The Big Easy until the sun comes up. Even if you're not immediately familiar with Allen Toussaint's work, you are sure to recognize these songs immediately, and Swingadelic have captured the groove (there's that word again) of a very vibrant city and its fantastic community of citizens.

-This Is Book's Music, April 6th 2013

If you aren't familiar with this band yet, they are called a repertoire band. This means they do tribute records that aren't cheesy. The stuff they've done so far has always impressed. This time out, they single out another august cat that doesn't seem to get the love he deserves, Allen Toussaint, who turned 75 this January and has left over 50 years of hits in his wake from all eras, styles and modes, even if this is one of the cats that write the book on Nawlins as we know it. Once again, no cheese here. Check this out and give the band and the master the proper love this set fills the air with.

-Chris Spector, Midwest Record, April 6th 2013