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  • Writer's pictureJOHN OSLER'S UPBEAT Admin


TEMPERAMENT is defined as the combination of mental, physical, and emotional traits of a person. The three musicians below share a natural predisposition to be easy going and to have a sense of confidence in their ability. Every family needs one of these guys.

In music temperament is the tuning of a keyboard instrument, as the piano, organ, or harpsichord, so that the instrument may be played in all keys without further tuning.

This seems to be true for Allen, Marcus and Robert also.


ALLEN TOUSSAINT   1938 – 2015


One day in New Orleans I watched a familiar looking well dressed gentleman come out of a drug store. Before he had a chance to get very far he was stopped by a friend and the two entered into a quiet conversation. Soon the conversation was joined by another friend and a third and a fourth. One friend would leave with a wave and be replaced with someone new. Every one was gracious and no one appeared to be in a hurry. That is the way life tends to be in New Orleans. New Orleans is definitely The Big Easy.  You have to spend some time in this city to slow down to their pace. I think that everyone is saving their energy as they know they will need all that they have once the music starts.

For all I know the man at the center of the conversation could have been Allen Toussaint. Allen personified New Orleans. He had a huge amount of talent, diverse portfolio, an ability to make one feel good about things and omnipresent dignity. He was often seen driving out of his middle class neighborhood in New Orleans in a Bentley. He mingled with the superstars but remained behind the scene as just part of the family.

We lost this grand gentleman and his beautiful spirit last week. Like the soft summer breeze that moves through the French Quarter, Allen quietly created some of the world’s favorite music. We have all moved to his beats and smiled hearing his words. Few of us knew his name. In New Orleans this gentle man was revered for his generous nature. He nudged many of his fellow artists into the limelight. He wrote songs in their voice. He was a producer, song writer. musician,Grammy Award winner, Hall of Fame inductee and a humanitarian. In 1985 Allen and Aaron Neville founded the NEW ORLEANS ARTISTS AGAINST HUNGER AND HOMELESSNESS. They brought together a group of New Orleans musicians for the purpose of performing  concerts to benefit the hungry and homeless of Metro New Orleans. To date, more than $1 million dollars have been distributed to charity since their first  concert.

Allen died while on tour in Madrid, Spain before he could  take part in a benefit concert, An Evening With Paul Simon & Allen Toussaint  scheduled for this 8th of December.

Last week at the Dirty Dog I had a chance to sit and chat with the great Jason Marsalis about Allen Toussaint. He told of a time when his band was gigging locally in New Orleans, trying out some new stuff and discovered Allen in the audience smiling approvingly at their efforts. Family matters.

Allen Toussaint was part of a large musical family in New Orleans. Detroit and New Orleans disproportionately  influence the world’s music. This has a lot to do with how we go about it. We do it as a family.

Allen’s accomplishments are too long to be listed. If you have an hour,  here is a BBC documentary about Allen Toussaint that will show you the man.

Here is Allen with some family at New Orlean’s version of a jazz festival.



NOVEMBER 18 & 19

Saxophonist Marcus Elliot, like Allen Toussaint, is a quiet yet powerful artist. He has the disposition that allows him to gather talented musicians around him. This week he will celebrate the music of some of Detroit’s legendary composers and improvisers like Marcus Belgrave, Ken Cox, Lawrence Williams, Roy Brooks, Donald Walden, Sam Sanders, Harold McKinney and more with his band of young lions . He will have Anthony Stanco on trumpet, Michael Malis on piano, Ben Rolstonon on bass and Stephen Boegehold on drums. They will prove that Detroit’s jazz family is rock safe.



Some of Jason Marsalis band were talking about playing in Detroit and in particularly the depth of our great bass players. One of the first mentioned was Robert Hurst.

ROBERT HURST is described as “a bassist that quietly dominates the stage”. Like Allen Troussaint he is better known by his peers than by the public. His mastery of his instrument combined with his uncanny ability to pick up his band mates’ messages have made him one of the world’s go to bass players. Just about everyone has gone to Robert. For eight years he played with Branford Marsalis on the Tonight Show. He toured with Diana Krall and a host of others. Along the way he has received 7 Grammy Awards and 4 Emmys. Robert Hurst for all his success in the world of jazz remains solidly an important part of Detroit’s musical family. Robert is an Associate Professor of Music at the University of Michigan. He believes in sharing his gifts with family.

John Osler


Here is Robert Hurst playing with Diana Krall with a great drum solo by Peter Erskine.

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