Seattle Times, June 27, 2006

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Elvis Costello and Allen Toussaint

Chateau Ste. Michelle

Patrick McDonald


And that's just what 3,400 fans did Sunday night at Chateau Ste. Michelle, where Costello and Toussaint opened the Woodinville winery's 2006 summer concert series.

Costello, who seems out to master every musical genre, pop to country to jazz, this time is dabbling in New Orleans R&B. His distinctive voice — a pop-y tenor laced with cynicism — didn't always mesh perfectly with Toussaint's earnest, soulful songwriting, but the onstage camaraderie made for a tight performance.

The picnicking, wine-drinking crowd may have bought their concert tickets so they could sing along to Costello classics like "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding," "Pump It Up," and "Alison" (all ably delivered), but they got plenty more: about a dozen songs from the pair's new CD, The River in Reverse. The CD — a mix of Costello covering old songs penned by the New Orleans songwriter-pianist and new pieces they wrote together — provided many of the night's best-received tunes.

One of those, the funky, bluesy "On Your Way Down" (a Toussaint song from 1970) was jazzed up by the real stars of the night, the Crescent City Horns, who matched Toussaint note for note as he pounded the keys on the baby grand. The horns — who during the second of three encores gave a dreamy brass-quartet intro to "Alison" — were led by the remarkable Sam "Big Sam" Williams on trombone.

Toussaint and Costello (who announced Sunday that he and wife Diana Krall are expecting a baby, according to The Associated Press) are actually longtime collaborators. The match brings out the best in both. Like a lot of R&B, Toussaint songs can be overwrought; "Ascension Day" (sample lyric: "She hasn't been gone long enough for me to miss her") could be heard as no more than one man singing for his lost girl. But with Costello's edge, it was a song for all of us, and all we have lost.

Copyright (c) 2006 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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Seattle Times, June 27, 2006

Patrick MacDonald reviews Elvis Costello & The Imposters with Allen Toussaint and The Crescent City Horns, Sunday, June 25, 2006, Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery, Woodinville, WA.


2006-06-27 Seattle Times photo 01 ap.jpg
AP photo.


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