Allen Toussaint plays Summer of Jazz |

Allen Toussaint plays Summer of Jazz

April ClarkGlenwood Springs correspondentAspen, CO Colorado
Legendary jazz singer-songwriter and composer Allen Toussaint plays Wednesday's Summer of Jazz concert at 7 p.m. in Two Rivers Park in Glenwood Springs. (Stewart Oksenhorn/Aspen Times file)

GLENWOOD SPRINGS Rock and Roll Hall of Famers don’t typically make their way to the Two Rivers Park band shell in west Glenwood Springs.Wednesday’s Summer of Jazz concert at 7 p.m. changes that.This week, the free series hosts music legend Allen Toussaint an award-winning composer, producer, songwriter, vocalist and pianist and his jazz quartet.And it was easy as asking.Summer of Jazz organizers Bob and Mary Noone approached Toussaint at the spring New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.”I’m really excited,” Mary Noone said. “We ran into him at Jazz Fest, and he was just hanging out … listening to Trombone Shorty. I went up to him and told him how much I loved his music. Then Bob went up to him and asked him if he’d play. He said, ‘Yes.'”Toussaint a lifelong New Orleans native who relocated to New York City after Hurricane Katrina was inducted in to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998. More recently, he has toured with singer-songwriter Elvis Costello, with whom he collaborated on the soulful album project “The River in Reverse,” inspired by Katrina’s destruction.”Before Katrina, I stayed in New Orleans all the time,” said Toussaint, shortly after arriving in Glenwood Springs Tuesday afternoon. “These new performances are a new way of life, in a way. Back in New Orleans, I’m still working on getting my living quarters in order.”Starting July 1, Toussaint and Costello embark on a European tour to promote “The River in Reverse.” The duo and accompanying musicians spent last year touring the United States, including a performance at the Jazz Aspen Snowmass June Festival.”When I caught the speeding train called Elvis Costello, there have been a lot of performances since then,” Toussaint said. “I feel very dearly about that.”

Four days ago, Toussaint returned from a solo performance in Portugal. During his illustrious career, he wrote the hit “Working in a Coal Mine.” Toussaint also produced Dr. John’s Top-40 smash “Right Place, Wrong Time,” and the 1975 No. 1 hit “Lady Marmalade,” by LaBelle, before singer Patti LaBelle reached solo stardom.”People have been so receptive,” said Toussaint, about performing on the road. “I’ve always been behind the scenes in my comfort zone. I just think it’s absolutely wonderful.”Representing his birthplace and hometown as it continues to rebuild from the deadliest hurricane in U.S. history is of utmost importance to this son of New Orleans.”I love New Orleans so dearly,” he said. “I love the awareness of keeping New Orleans in the minds of folks. I’d like New Orleans to stay on the scene.”Toussaint is appreciative the Noones have again dedicated the eight Summer of Jazz concerts to New Orleans musicians.”It’s just outstanding they’re doing a whole series for it,” he said. “For one thing, there are so many people who are here and who will be in the audience who reached out to New Orleans, whether it was volunteering or donating. I would like to thank everyone who helped, who had so much heart and soul. I will never forget that.”Toussaint may have lost his home and belongings in Hurricane Katrina, but he keeps a positive outlook on his future and career.”I lost items I loved dearly – memorabilia, works in progress, apparatus,” he said. “I’m fine with that. It’s going to be OK.”He considers performing in Glenwood Springs – his first time staying in the city – a blessing.”What a beautiful place to be,” he said. “So inspiring. It has to be so inspiring for people who live here.”Maybe a new song will come of it.

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