Legends of New Orleans showcases three of the city's most celebrated musicians: Allen Toussaint, Dr. John, and the Neville Brothers. These musicians came of age during the heyday of R&B when the New Orleans sound dominated the national R&B charts. These performances are from the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival 2000, the world's largest music and cultural event with over a half million people from around the world attending. Includes a special appearance by Bonnie Raitt. Songs: A Certain Girl, Mother-in-Law, Fortune Teller, Workin' in a Coal Mine, All These Things, Pain in My Heart, What is Success? (Allen Toussaint), Right Place Wrong Time, Candy, Goin' Back to New Orleans (Dr. John), Fire on the Bayou, Crazy Love, Tipitina (The Neville Brothers). 57 minutes.
Produced partly under the aegis of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, this hourlong documentary provides a solid overview of the Crescent City's formidable '50s and '60s rhythm & blues influence through portraits of three of the festival's most enduring draws. It helps that Allen Toussaint, Dr. John, and the four Neville Brothers are contemporaries whose careers have intersected numerous times, although the program's concise format of interviews and live Fest performances never takes full advantage of those associations: all six musicians came up through the ranks as teenagers, and have performed and recorded together in various configurations. More casual listeners may wonder why the lesser-known Toussaint leads off the program, but the gifted pianist, songwriter, arranger, and producer brings a rap sheet that fully justifies the spotlight. Indeed, our lone complaint is that hearing his songs condensed into rapid-fire medleys just whets our ears for a fuller set. Dr. John and the Nevilles are reliably fine, of course. --Sam Sutherland