Thanksgiving with the National Heritage Fellows

14 hours ago
Michael G. Stewart

This week, the 77-year-old New Orleans songwriter, producer and arranger Allen Toussaint died after a concert in Madrid. For most of his career, Toussaint preferred working behind the scenes, but our friend Gwen Thompkins met him at a time when he'd thrown himself into performing extensively around the world. Before they parted ways for what would be the last time, Toussaint gave Thompkins a gift: a demo recording of a song he never got to release, but said he wanted the world to hear.

The brass-band sound is a proud tradition of New Orleans. But over the years, those horns have evolved to embrace a broader repertoire, full of funk and jazz and even a little hip-hop — and the sounds have migrated well beyond Louisiana. Take NO BS! Brass Band, whose core members met at Virgina Commonwealth University and proudly claim Richmond, Va. as their home base.

This program is music from the medieval manuscript of the romance of Fauvel, a tawny colored horse who rises to prominence in the French 14th century royal court. It is one of the most famous collections of medieval music in existence.

Allen Toussaint.

This week, we learned that Allen Toussaint died after performing at a concert Monday in Madrid. He was 77 years old. Toussaint had toured extensively since Hurricane Katrina, but he was, in many ways, a reluctant performer. He preferred his life behind the scenes in the studio — writing, producing, and arranging songs. A disciple of Professor Longhair, Toussaint seemed to understand what New Orleans music could do for the world.

Continuum presents a program of Renaissance Band Music. The musical band is a group of specialized musicians usually playing various types of wind instruments sometimes with added vocals.

Modern Traditions: Ben Harper and Carl LeBlanc

Nov 5, 2015
Ben Jaffe, Gwen Thompkins and Charlie Gabriel.
Amanda Irizarry / Elephant Quilt Productions

Giants of traditional jazz played here; hell, they still play here: tucked behind walls with a patina worthy of the temple Preservation Hall has been through the years.

The doors opened in 1961. This was to be a sanctuary for America’s original music, born on the banks of the Mississippi. Here, the original sound of jazz would echo down St. Peter Street, even as rock ‘n’ roll swallowed radio.

The songs of Oswald von Wolkenstein, the 15th century minnesinger, the German counterpart of the French troubadour and trouvere, are featured on this Continuum program.