The R&B musician Allen Toussaint was New Orleans’s musical elder statesmen until his death last year. He had held the position since his mentor Professor Longhair passed away in 1980.
In the 1970s, before Longhair’s death, Toussaint was pushing forward the Crescent City’s R&B sound by mixing it with contemporary funk and soul. The pinnacle of this can be heard in the three albums he recorded for Warner, all of which have now been reissued by Warner Jazz as The Complete Warner Recordings.
The compilation features Life, Love and Faith (1972), Southern Nights (1975) and Motion (1978). Each of them was progressive in a distinctive way: Southern Nights, for instance, has hints of neo-psychedelia, while Life, Love and Faith’s mixes funk with southern soul.
Mentored by Professor Longhair, Allen Toussaint began his recording career in the late 1950s. As a hit songwriter, pianist or arranger he has worked with practically every major southern soul and New Orleans funk artist of note, including the Meters, Art and Aaron Neville, Lee Dorsey, Irma Thomas, Dr John, Etta James, Ernie K-Doe, Lowell George, the Wild Tchoupitoulas, and many more. Toussaint passed away on 9 November 2015.
The Complete Warner Recordings, which was first released in a limited run in 2003, now includes new live material and a different version of ‘Country John’ from Southern Nights.