Happy Birthday Allen Toussaint: Charting The Band Horns

 Photo by Glade Bilby II

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Today would have been iconic New Orleans pianist Allen Toussaint’s 78th birthday had the legendary composer and performer not unexpectedly died last November. As noted, his home town has declared today Allen Toussaint Day in the City of New Orleans in recognition of his contribution to defining the city’s musical style and scene. An insatiable collaborator throughout his long and successful career, for his birthday today, here’s a video detailing the beginnings of his relationship with the acclaimed rock group The Band.

In the clip, The Band guitarist Robbie Robertson describes the preparation for a run of concerts at the Academy of Music in New York City in December 1971, for which the group sought out Toussaint to prepare charts for a horn section that would accompany them on stage. Robertson explains how Toussaint’s briefcase with prepared horn charts was stolen before he arrived in Woodstock, New York for rehearsals, and how Allen had to deal with a severe ear infection while drafting new charts.

“Allen Toussaint is the truth of New Orleans music,” says Robertson in the featurette which you can watch below:

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