(Allen Toussaint photo by Lee Crum)

*Composer, producer, singer, arranger Allen Toussaint was on a bus heading for Houston when we talked.  After Hurricane Katrina he moved to New York although he has since returned to New Orleans.  

He is presently touring with Nicholas Payton and the Joe Krown Trio.  The tour will take him to Lehman Center for the Performing Arts in the Bronx on Sunday, Nov 14th where he will bring the flavor of New Orleans music via his 6:00 p.m., show “New Orleans Nights.”

“I have written, composed and arranged a variety of music, such as New Orleans Blues, jazz, R&B, etc., including songs like “Whatever Happened to Rock ‘n Roll,” which is in the area of hard rock.  My music is eclectic but it all represents New Orleans as far as I am concerned.  I wear many different hats” said Toussaint.  

“I wrote many years for Lee Dorsey, Tijuana Brass, Glen Campbell, Patti LaBelle, Joe Cocker, Elvis Costello, and lots of folks around the country.  Glen Campell did my song “Southern Nights” which I initially sang.  However my version was a slower mystical version.  Glenn gave “Southern Nights” a life it never would have had.  He made it a #1 hit and frankly I like his version better than mine,” remarked Toussaint who has worked with artist such as Paul McCartney, Paul Simon, Mac “Dr. John” Rebennac, Aaron and Art Neville, Joe Cocker, The Meters,  The Band, The Rolling Stones, Irma Thomas, Etta James and Ramsey Lewis to name a few.

Mr. Toussaint’s Lehman Center show “New Orleans Nights” combines his extraordinary and legendary songwriter and bandleader talents with the skills of trumpeter/composer Nicholas Payton, and the masterful B-3 organ trio led by Joe Krown.  Allen Toussaint is known for shaping the music of New Orleans via writing such timeless hits as “Working in the Coal Mine,” “I Like It Like That” and “Right Place Wrong Time.”  Called “abundantly gifted” and “a high-wire soloist” by The New York Times, Nicholas Payton is also a composer, bandleader and trumpet wizard whose recordings have consistently charted in the Billboard Top 20 Jazz albums, from his first recording, From This Moment (#15) to his current release Into the Blue (#11).  The Joe Krown Trio is a collaboration of three of New Orleans’s greatest players, who will merge with the big sound of Joe Krown’s Hammond B-3.  Audiences are sure to be delighted by the soulful vocals of Walter “Wolfman” Washington, and the masterful drumming of Russell Batiste Jr., making the show a treat for those who love the sound of New Orleans instrumental, blues and jazz.

“We will be showing New Orleans in its finest light” claimed Allen. “People can expect to hear songs from my CD “Bright Mississippi,” (#2 on the top Billboard charts) and I will be singing “Yes We Can Can,” one of my songs that the Pointer Sisters made famous.  Al Hirt also made my song “Java” a #1 hit via his wonderful trumpet rendition.  There will be a variety of my music performed at Lehman Center.  Nicholas Payton will even sit in on some of the sets.  

“I was in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina and four days afterwards.  I remained there until they declared Marshal Law and then I did leave.  I got an apartment in New York where I had business associates and friends and stayed in New York quite a while.  In fact, I still keep an apartment in New York but I have returned to New Orleans because it’s my home.  Commercially New Orleans is superb like nothing happened.  Residentially, there is still a ways to go to rebuild.  It’s such a big job there are still neighborhoods that require work but we are all working at it.  It takes a while since there is not enough work force to speed up the process.  But as I said, we are all working at it and I think people are very positive that we will get New Orleans back to how it once was,” said Toussaint who is a1998 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and inducted into the Louisiana Hall of Fame in 2009.  He is the recipient of the  prestigious Grammy Trustees Award.

“Usually I write with a particular artist in mind.  Sometimes I write it while they are in the room.  For instance Lee Dorsey and Irma Thomas were sitting there when I wrote “Ruler of My Heart” and “Its Raining” for Irma and “”Get Out of My Life Woman,” and “Pain in My Heart” for Lee.  I arranged the song “Lady Marmalade” written by Bob Crewe and Kenny Nolan for Patti Labelle.  Patti brings professionalism and theatre to her singing.  She really makes her music fly.  I found Paul McCarthy to be a superb human being, producer and fine humanitarian who holds the interest of people at heart,” recalls Toussaint.

Lehman Center for the Performing Arts is located at 250 Bedford Park Boulevard West, Bronx, NY.  For tickets to “NEW ORLEANS NIGHTS” featuring Allen Toussaint, Nicholas Payton and The Joe Krown Trio on Sunday, November 14, 2010 at 6pm, call the Lehman Center box office at 718.960.8833 or visit www.LehmanCenter.org.