Elvis Costello & Allen Toussaint "The River in Reverse" Verve Forecast

By Bob Putignano

Upon meeting after Katrina, Elvis Costello has teamed with New Orleans legend Allen Toussaint for a new album titled "The River in Reverse." This collaboration grew from Hurricane Katrina, and the unlikely duo of Elvis Costello and New Orleans legend Allen Toussaint have bonded a relationship that goes beyond this recording, as after seeing their live performance from the New Orleans Jazz Festival on the Festivals web site, one can only say- wow, and it was so funky and tight! This is no surprise- as whenever Toussaint is involved with arrangement's, (Allen did all the horn arrangements on this CD,) one can almost always expect a product of high quality, and this disk is no exception.

Like many NOLA residents and musicians, Allen's home was destroyed by Katrina's wrath and he is still rebuilding. But as one can easily hear on this disk- the 68-year-old's musical creativity continues to grow, as this work with Costello will definitely grab your soul.

After Katrina Toussaint moved to New York and performed several Katrina benefit concerts with Costello, as well as a string of gigs at Joe's Pub nearby to Greenwich Village. Rumor has it that Costello was thinking about doing an entire album of Toussaint tunes, at this same time Costello turned up at many of the Toussaint Joe's Pub performances.

What came from those meetings and performances is the Verve Forecast recording "The River in Reverse." There are many stellar tracks included, and what is really surprising is the melding of Costello's Imposters band with what is called the Crescent City Horns featuring the always hot Amadee Castenell on sax and Big Sam Williams ex of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band (who Costello worked with in the past) and Sam's current band- Big Sam's Funky Nation. Joe Smith and Brian Cayolle mostly round out the horn section. The standout tracks include the opening track "On Your Way Down" that slowly boils to an increasing intensity, "Who's Gonna Help Brother Get Further?" which is the disks only track that Toussaint is featured on vocals and check out the two explosive bone solo's by Big Sam, the quirky "Tears, Tears and More Tears." "International Echo" and "Wonder Woman" are also strong selections.

I must admit that I was skeptical when I read about the collaboration of Toussaint and Costello, as so many of these types of recordings can often sound like a train wreck, but not "The River in Reverse." Check it out for yourself- as the merger of Costello & Toussaint is a very successful venture.

Bob Putignano www.SoundsofBlue.com

Bob Putignano
Radio Host WFDU's "Sounds of Blue"
President of the NY Blues and Jazz Society