Back in November I stumbled upon an article in the Boston Herald discussing the return of a local legend – Toussaint the Liberator. For years, Toussaint played at Matt Murphy’s in Brookline with the China Band. Nights would get pretty hot and packed at the small Irish style pub in the heart of Brookline. When I use to live on Beacon Street just between Coolidge Corner and Washington Square we would go at least once or twice a month. Many nights spent in the back room hanging out with Bill Carbone, Johnny Trauma, Toussaint and who ever else happened to find themselves out back to grab a smoke. Those were some good times.
But those good times have past. Since then, Toussaint had broken off from the China Band and went on tour with Soulive as their lead man. After a couple years of touring and an album on the legendary Stax Label, they went their separate ways. Not because they didn’t get along, but rather it wasn’t the right fit. Toussaint even made it clear in the Herald article that he still communicates with the band members and has the utmost respect for them and the music they create.
Which brings us to last night. Bill Carbone, a fantastic drummer well known for his chops here in the Boston music circuit. Some of you may remember him from his Miracle Orchestra days. He started Buru Style a couple years back and when Toussaint came back into the fray after being away for a little while from the music scene, he saw a perfect fit for his vocals.
Those of you that are fans of the Budos Band or anything from the Daptone Record label for that matter, will find themselves drawn to Bill’s creation – A keyboard player that also has a Moog (I believe) which helps bring in the funk when needed; two sax players that play tighter then an old sailors knot; a bassist that knows how to lay the grooves and a guitar player, who was surprisingly a crowd favorite towards the end of last nights show. I hadn’t paid much attention to him all night but it took Toussaint to turn, look and make us recognize his guitar players abilities. He had a great way of floating notes in and out of Toussaint’s vocal rhythms. All in all, they do a great job of mixing in the reggae influences with a touch of funk and a boat load of soul.
There’s no question that we saw a very grown up Toussaint last night. Our crew all noticed that immediately upon seeing him on stage. I talked briefly to Bill after the show where he explained they just finished up recording their first album. It’s now going into the mastering phase. They are taking a little break after a few more shows here in January while Toussaint makes a trip down to the islands (Virgin I believe). They’ll be back in Boston at Church in March and if you’re a fan of energy, dancing and seeing one of the best under appreciated vocalists, then I’ll see you there.
They have an EP available in various outlets. You can also pick up the Buru Style instrumental album, The Crab, and Toussaint and The China Band’s album over at their Store.
I shot some amateur video with the phone last night: