Allen Toussaint’s songs were once defined by the kind of slippery funk that could only be found in New Orleans—50 variations of backbeat girding hits by Lee Dorsey, Ernie K-Doe, and other regional heroes. On the new Songbook album and DVD, he gives us a one-man career retrospective that’s all about grace. These solo romps through “It’s Raining,” “Holy Cow,” and other Toussaint jewels are built on poise and elegance. The r&b maestro’s meticulous lines provide enough nuanced accents to give the performances a rhythmic thrust, and the signature gentility of his vocals adds a cushion of sentiment or humor, depending on the needs at hand. At 75, the author of “Yes We Can” (used to stoke both post-Katrina optimism and Obama’s presidential run) remains a marvel who still likes to bounce those Fess riffs and knock out Crescent City commercials like “I Could Eat Crawfish Everyday.” This brunch session at the club where Songbook was recorded is a chance to see royalty up close.
Sun., Oct. 6, noon, 2013