For all intents and purposes, Allen Toussaint is New Orleans music. The 74-year-old pianist, songwriter, producer and arranger's résumé is too long to list, but here are a few highlights: He filled in for Fats Domino at some of Dave Bartholomew's recording sessions in the '50s; he gave the Meters their first break as the house band for his Sansu record label; he wrote Jesse Hill's "Ooh-Poo-Pah-Doo," Lee Dorsey's "Workin' in a Coal Mine" and Glen Campbell's "Southern Nights"; he produced Ernie K-Doe's "Mother-In-Law," Dr. John's "Right Place, Wrong Time" and LaBelle's "Lady Marmalade"; he's been covered by the Rolling Stones, The Who and The Band; and he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998. Not enough? Then get this: Some of Toussaint's most acclaimed work has come recently. His 2006 collaboration with Elvis Costello, The River in Reverse — the first album recorded in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina — won almost universal praise and a Grammy nomination. Toussaint scored another Grammy nod for last year's The Bright Mississippi, which showcases his fluid, precise piano work on jazz standards by Sidney Bechet, Jelly Roll Morton, Duke Ellington and Thelonious Monk.
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