So busy was Allen Toussaint in the wake of his late-2000s revival, he didn't wind up entering a recording studio to begin work on a sequel to his 2009 jazz album, The Bright Mississippi, until 2013 (2013's Songbook consisted of live recordings from 2009). A few solo sessions happened that year, followed by a round with a band and guests in October 2015 and then he died a few weeks later, passing away in Madrid, Spain while on tour. Producer Joe Henry, who helmed The Bright Mississippi, pulled together American Tunes for a posthumous release in the summer of 2016. Tonally, American Tunes isn't much different from its predecessor, yet its elegiac elegance doesn't come from a place of despair: it's a wistful look back at his past and home.
The third studio meeting in nearly 17 years between Medeski, Martin & Wood and guitarist John Scofield has no easy referent to their earlier recordings – purposely. This quartet sounds like a real band on Juice, which is a mixed blessing. The positive aspect is that this longtime collaboration creates near instinctive communication. This is a much more inside date, though the rhythmic interplay between bassist Chris Wood and drummer Billy Martin is outstanding throughout.