ALLEN TOUSSAINT BAND
At 7:30 p.m. April 7, Trustees Theater
Songwriter, pianist, producer and arranger Allen Toussaint has been one of the most influential figures in New Orleans R&B for more than 45 years; his innate understanding of the threads that hold funk and jazz together has resulted in many, many classic records - some of his great homegrown productions include the Meters, Dr. John and Wild Tchoupitoulas, and his deft ear and hand also turned out classic sides by Lee Dorsey (Toussaint's own "Working in a Coal Mine," "Ya Ya"), Irma Thomas and even Labelle (the classic "Lady Marmalade"). As a writer, Toussaint gave us "Fortune Teller," "Lipstick Traces (On a Cigarette)," "Southern Nights," "Yes We Can," "Sneakin' Sally Through the Alley," "Pain in My Heart," "A Certain Girl," "Ooh Poo Pah Doo," "Get Out of My Life Woman," "Mother-in-Law" and a couple of immortal instrumentals: "Java" (a big hit for Al Hirt) and "Whipped Cream" (some of us will remember the melody; it's the theme from TV's The Dating Game). He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998. The opener is British R&B singer and guitarist James Hunter, a producing protégé of Toussaint's.
At 8 p.m. April 8, Trustees Theater
Known as "The Golden Voice of Africa," Salif is a direct descendent of Sundiata Keita, the Mandinka warrior king who founded the Malian empire in the 13th century - because of the caste system in Mali, he was ostracized by his family when he announced his intention to become an entertainer. He is a vocalist whose music mines the rich historical vein of his African griot ancestry, while happily incorporating Latin textures and instruments, and a more modern approach to arrangement. The result is a sinewy, almost spiritual (he is Muslim) fusion of kora, simbi and other African instruments, acoustic guitar, jazzy horns and even dance-beat electronica. Kieta's album La Difference was named Best World Music 2010 at France's Victoires de la Musique awards. Born an albino, he is also well known for the Salif Kieta Global Foundation, "for the social integration, protection and fair treatment of persons with Albinism."
At 8:30 and 10:30 p.m. April 9, Charles H. Morris Center
Here's the deal: This explosive saxman was instrumental in propelling the music of James Brown, George Clinton and Bootsy's Rubber Band. He's in the middle of a tour with Prince. As if that weren't all you really needed to know, even though he's cut a few jazz records, and gigged as a sideman on other people's projects, Parker is considered the contemporary King of Funk. Expect this show (the SMF's "Funky Dance Party") to shake the rafters, as Maceo's band includes ex-Funkadelic bassist Rodney Skeet Curtis, trumpeter Ron Tooley and trombonist Dennis Rollins, guitarist Bruno Speight, hot drummer Jamal Thomas and singer Martha High (another veteran of Mr. Brown's JB's). This group bills itself as "the greatest little funk orchestra on Earth," and who are we to doubt it?