Allen Toussaint – The Bright Mississippi

What makes The Bright Mississippi a brilliant record is Allen Toussaint’s refined, rich reinterpretation of New Orleans standards. With a cast of all-star players including clarinetist Don Byron, trumpeter Nicholas Payton and guitarist Marc Ribot, Mr. Toussaint—who may be one of the best jazz pianists alive you have never heard of—revives classics like Louis Armstrong’s “West End Blues,” Duke Ellington’s “Day Dream” and Thelonious Monk’s “Bright Mississippi” by returning to the root. As a result, The Bright Mississippi sounds sweet, joyful and familiar on the surface, yet soulful, gentle and whimsical underneath. His pianistic approach is full of angularity and subtlety. Every time I listen to the opening riff on Sidney Bechet’s “Egyptian Fantasy,” particularly in this rendition, I wonder where Mr. Nguyen Van Thuong got his melody for “Dem Dong.”

Bonjour Vietnam