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Allan Toussaint plays Prof Longhair


Mike Davis

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Every time I see Allen Touissant talk about music, I think to myself..."that guy is about the coolest guy in the world." He is so relaxed and gentle...and his playing reflects that. I saw him at the Pabst Theatre in Milwaukee a few years ago and it was a fabulous show. I'm ashamed to admit that was the first time I learned that he wrote 'Working in a Coalmine." His version was slightly different than the Devo version I grew up with :-)

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I saw Mr. Toussaint when he was touring with Elvis Costello a couple of years back and, in addition to doing a great performance he was a real class act backstage afterward. Unlike Elvis, Toussaint made sure he spent time with everyone that approached him and expressed his gratitude for them coming. It was the same at the stage door on our way out; a master musician and a true gentleman.

 

If you're interested in that style you might want to pick up The Piano Styles of Dr. John (DVD). It's a two-disc at-the-piano interview and includes a book of transcriptions. Dr. John is a Fess disciple, as are most N'awlins piano players it seems. He goes through Fess's "Big Chief". I've looked for books on Fess's piano style and haven't found any yet.

Instrumentation is meaningless - a song either stands on its own merit, or it requires bells and whistles to cover its lack of adequacy, much less quality. - kanker
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I've looked for books on Fess's piano style and haven't found any yet.

 

Then allow me this blatant ego (if not financial) plug: The Professor Longhair Collection. Exact transcriptions of 19 Fess tunes (including "Big Chief" the way he actually played it, which I've never heard anyone else do). I can vouch for the accuracy of the transcriptions, 'cuz I did 'em. I don't get royalties on the book, so I have no qualms about shamelessly plugging it. Ditto with the James Booker collection and the "New Orleans Piano Legends" book (with tunes from a variety of players).

 

As far as Mac's instructional CDs and DVDs, they're wonderful for hearing him play and talk, but be forewarned that the transcriptions that come with them are neither complete nor accurate. Also, a lot of people have told me they had issues with his "explanations" of things, which often times don't really explain a lot. I think they're still well worth picking up, but just know in advance what you're getting.

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You did those? Sh-oot. I've had those two on my wish list for a while. I really want to learn Tipitina, but I'm afraid I'm not there yet. I've also gone back and forth on the Fess collection vs. NOLA Legends. Do you have any suggestions?

"I'm so crazy, I don't know this is impossible! Hoo hoo!" - Daffy Duck

 

"The good news is that once you start piano you never have to worry about getting laid again. More time to practice!" - MOI

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Thanks again for pointing that out, FKS. I've ordered the Legends book.

"I'm so crazy, I don't know this is impossible! Hoo hoo!" - Daffy Duck

 

"The good news is that once you start piano you never have to worry about getting laid again. More time to practice!" - MOI

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I've looked for books on Fess's piano style and haven't found any yet.

 

Then allow me this blatant ego (if not financial) plug: The Professor Longhair Collection. Exact transcriptions of 19 Fess tunes (including "Big Chief" the way he actually played it, which I've never heard anyone else do). I can vouch for the accuracy of the transcriptions, 'cuz I did 'em. I don't get royalties on the book, so I have no qualms about shamelessly plugging it. Ditto with the James Booker collection and the "New Orleans Piano Legends" book (with tunes from a variety of players).

FKS - you are my hero! The Fess book is now next on my list.

 

As far as Mac's instructional CDs and DVDs, they're wonderful for hearing him play and talk, but be forewarned that the transcriptions that come with them are neither complete nor accurate.

Thanks for pointing that out, FKS, cause I should have. I've spent many an hour going through the DVD over and over in slow motion to pick up the things that are not in the "transcription". I like to think of it as a starting point. It's like doing your own transcription with a guide to start from. It reminds me of that line from the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: It may be inaccurate but it's *definitively* inaccurate.

 

Also, a lot of people have told me they had issues with his "explanations" of things, which often times don't really explain a lot. I think they're still well worth picking up, but just know in advance what you're getting.

 

Agreed.

 

Instrumentation is meaningless - a song either stands on its own merit, or it requires bells and whistles to cover its lack of adequacy, much less quality. - kanker
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Here's some info on Allen and the early hits he wrote. He moved on to producing the 70s and had great success with that also.

_________________________________________________________________

In the early 1960s he wrote and produced a string of hits for New Orleans R&B artists such as Ernie K-Doe, Irma Thomas, Art and Aaron Neville, The Showmen, and Lee Dorsey. Some of his songs from this period were published under the pseudonym Naomi Neville. "Ruler of My Heart", recorded by Irma Thomas, is one example; the song would go on to be recorded by Otis Redding under the title "Pain in My Heart". "A Certain Girl" was on the first single release in 1964 by The Yardbirds featuring Eric Clapton. The two-sided 1962 hit by Benny Spellman, including "Lipstick Traces (On A Cigarette)," later covered by The O'Jays also had the simple but effective "Fortune Teller," covered by many 1960s rock groups including The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Hollies, ex- Searchers founder member Tony Jackson and recently (2007) by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss on Raising Sand. A significant early influence was the second-line piano style of Professor Longhair.

 

 

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I've looked for books on Fess's piano style and haven't found any yet.

 

Then allow me this blatant ego (if not financial) plug: The Professor Longhair Collection. Exact transcriptions of 19 Fess tunes (including "Big Chief" the way he actually played it, which I've never heard anyone else do). I can vouch for the accuracy of the transcriptions, 'cuz I did 'em. I don't get royalties on the book, so I have no qualms about shamelessly plugging it. Ditto with the James Booker collection and the "New Orleans Piano Legends" book (with tunes from a variety of players).

 

As far as Mac's instructional CDs and DVDs, they're wonderful for hearing him play and talk, but be forewarned that the transcriptions that come with them are neither complete nor accurate. Also, a lot of people have told me they had issues with his "explanations" of things, which often times don't really explain a lot. I think they're still well worth picking up, but just know in advance what you're getting.

 

Major major props for being the one who did these incredible transcriptions. I have been playing the version of 'Willie Fugal's Blues' which is in there ever since it came out and I've gotten hours of joy out of the collection. Did you do the James Booker transcriptions?!?! That would be the most painstaking and difficult task I could imagine.

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