Eugenio Toussaint

From Wind Repertory Project
Engenion Toussaint


Eugenio Toussaint Uhtohff (9 October 1954, Mexico City – 8 February 2011, Mexico City) was a Mexican composer, arranger and jazz musician.

A self-taught musician, he started his performing career in 1972 as a pianist with the jazz band Odradek. In 1974 he studied privately with Jorge Perez Herrera (contemporary harmony) and Nestor Castaneda (piano technique). In 1975 he was part of the jazz band Blue Note, founded by Mexican bassist Roberto Aymes with whom he traveled all over México and recorded his first compositions in an album with the same name. At the end of 1976 he founded Sacbé, one of the most important and influential bands in the history of Mexican jazz.

Along with brothers Enrique and Fernando Toussaint, Eugenio moved to the United States and formed a new version of Sacbé in Minneapolis. In 1980, owing to a scholarship from the Mexican government, he moved to Los Angeles, California, to study at the Dick Grove Music School, where he met reedman Jan Crosse, with whom a new version of Sacbé was formed. During the same year, Toussaint also studied orchestration with Dr. Albert Harris.

From 1982 until 1983 he worked with trumpet player Herb Alpert and singer Paul Anka, with whom he was musical director until 1986.

In 1986 Toussaint returned to Mexico, where his major activity was composing concert music. From 1990 to 1991 he studied piano technique with Leopoldo Gonzalez. He also wrote 17 symphonic arrangements of Mexican popular music for a series of records called México de mis Amores. As a producer, in 1995, he produced the first album for the México City Wind Quintet, which featured contemporary Méxican music.

Toussaint received a commission from the National University Orchestra to write the concertino for woodwind quintet, string orchestra and percussion, performed by OFUNAM and conducted by Horst Neumann in January. The Oktktwoodwind octet was commissioned by Sinfonieta Ventus and performed in a 1997-1998 U.S. tour. He was also commissioned to write a second cello concerto for the Mexican cellist Carlos Prieto.

In November 2000 a suite of the ballet, Days of the Dead,(Días de los Muertos), composed in 1997, was performed in Philadelphia by the Curtis Ensemble conducted by Juan Carlos Lomonaco. In 2004, Toussaint's CD Musica de Camara was nominated for a Latin Grammy as the best classical album.

Besides his orchestral and arranging commitments, Toussaint continued to perform with his jazz trio in Mexico and abroad. He also received an honorary medal for achievement in music from the conservatory at Universidad Autonoma de Tamaulipas and the Juan Jose Calatayud Medal for merits in his jazz career in Veracruz, Mexico. The 2006 Campeche's Jazz Festival honored him.

Toussaint died of a deliberate drug overdose in 2011.

Works for Winds