One of the most surprisingly imaginative CDs to cross my desk in some time is Swingadelic's Toussaintville (Zoho). The album—released today—pays tribute to the songs of Allen Toussaint [pictured], who turned 75 in January. The music is an intelligent and swinging fusion of big band jazz and soul-pop.
The album not only skillfully reminds the listener of Toussaint's important contribution as a composer of top pop hits—Southern Nights, What Do You Want the Girl to Do, Sneaking Sally Through the Alley and Whipped Cream—but also does so through a jazz prism, never losing an ounce of Toussaint's earthy intent.
Mind you, this isn't an album of horns that come off like an awards show orchestra or a funky cruise ship band. These charts truly are fetching and respectful, retaining Toussaint's New Orleans power and passion.
Produced by bassist Dave Post, the album was arranged by Post and various members of the orchestra. In total, there are 14 musicians on each of the 15 tracks, including four saxes, two trumpets and three trombones plus a five-chair rhythm section. Vocals are handled by four different singers.
Swingadelic is known informally as New York's greatest little big band. While they do weddings, don't hold it against them. A band has to eat, and this album shows no traces of garters, tossed bouquets or a first dance. Swingadelic began in 1998 when Post brought together musician friends to play swing engagements at New York City's supper clubs. Swingadelic has also performed at Lincoln Center's Midsummer Night Swing, NJPAC, and at many other local festivals.
This album is quite a departure for the band, particularly how the charts are scored. If you're unfamiliar with Toussaint [pictured], this is a good introduction. It's just big sophisticated fun, with one foot in the big bands and the other in the Big Easy.
JazzWax tracks: You'll find Swingadelic's Toussaintville
JazzWax clip: Here's Southern Nights...