- Personnel: Allen Toussaint (vocals, piano); Marc Ribot (acoustic guitar); Don Byron (clarinet); Joshua Redman (tenor saxophone); Nicholas Payton (trumpet); Brad Mehldau (piano); David Piltch (upright bass); Jay Bellerose (drums, percussion).
- Audio Mixer: Kevin Killen.
- Liner Note Author: Joe Henry.
- Recording information: 03/19/2008-03/22/2008.
- Photographer: Michael Wilson .
- Fans of legendary New Orleans musician Allen Toussaint may at first be surprised that, for his first album in over a decade, the producer, songwriter, and pianist would choose to forgo recording his own stellar material in favor of a collection of cover tunes. The songs here aren't just any songs, however, but a rich selection of Big Easy standards, as interpreted by one of the city's most gifted musical sons. The resulting Joe Henry-produced gumbo draws upon all of Toussaint's myriad musical experiences, but often focuses on his incredibly soulful piano playing. Even when other instruments take the lead (the trumpet on "A Dear Old Southland," the clarinet on "Just a Closer Walk With Thee") it's the master's sublimely sensitive ivory tickling that stands out. Recorded live in the studio with minimal instrumentation, the album captures Allen Toussaint at his most comfortable and intimate.
Rolling Stone (p.61) - 3.5 stars out of 5 -- "The results are both pure Ellington and Monk, as well as pure Toussaint, emotionally and structurally expansive, yet as keenly done as one of Toussaint's perfectly knotted ties."
Down Beat (p.56) - 4.5 stars out of 5 -- "[W]ith those rolling left-hand notes and buoyant stair-stepping rights, and the generosity and grandeur of his melting pot vision, Toussaint invokes nothing but joy."
JazzTimes (p.70) - "The title track is a rollicking streetback treatment of the Thelonious Monk tune based on 'Sweet Georgia Brown.'"
JazzTimes (p.34) - Ranked #5 in JazzTimes' "Top 50 CDs of 2009" -- "[A]n instrumental album of early jazz offerings..."
Dirty Linen (p.45) - "Toussaint masterfully resurrects classic tunes inspired by the Mississippi River and the people who live by its shores."
Billboard (p.37) - "Toussaint tackles the classic 'St. James Infirmary' with a hymn-like reverence, his rolling piano parts prodding Marc Ribot's nimble guitar."
Q (Magazine) (p.132) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "[P]roducer Joe Henry's relaxed, pin-sharp production makes it sound like the whole session is taking place in your own front room."
Record Collector (magazine) (p.86) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "[THE BRIGHT MISSISSIPPI] sees the 77-year-old architect of New Orleans reimagine jazz standards..."