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Backed by acoustic strings of the more intimate sort, Otis Taylor interprets his original blues tunes sincerely. His homespun voice has a little grit in it. There’s nothing fake about the way Taylor explains it. With blues harp in hand, he takes over with timeless tales and new twists.
Bringing in rotating cellists to accompany was a brilliant idea. The luster of the instrument’s timbre blends appropriately with Taylor’s fluid voice. He’s able to mourn over subjects such as drug-dealing, societal intolerance, and heartache within a clear framework. Banjo, mandolin, cello, guitar and bass make a fine setting. It’s natural. And, of course, Taylor’s blues message is as natural as a bear in the woods.
”505 Train” tells of domestic abuse and getting away from it—to an acoustic accompaniment that spells anticipation. “Hurry Home” gives the listener a powerful ray of hope, performed a cappella, while “Sounds of Attica” exhumes the ghosts of slavery amid droning melody and rhythm. History and social issues, both past and present, continue to provide us with grist for the blues.
Taylor turns the lead microphone over to his daughter for Double V ’s final track. She sings with the same kind of gentile persuasion as her father. With Dad’s guitar, cello, and a clarion trumpet backing her up, she sings about racial injustice. Any time is the right time for reflecting on such matters. The world has changed, but we all know that there’s still a long row to hoe. Thanks to Otis Taylor, the blues isn’t about to run out of qualified spokesmen any time soon.
I was first exposed to jazz as a middle school band student. A college ensemble passed through and put on a concert for the band students (of which I was one). The level of mastery and musicianship blew me away, intimidated, and inspired me
I was first exposed to jazz as a middle school band student. A college ensemble passed through and put on a concert for the band students (of which I was one). The level of mastery and musicianship blew me away, intimidated, and inspired me. Try as I might, I was never able to achieve a high enough level of competency to perform at the level I was first and subsequently exposed to. Regardless, I was hooked on jazz and remain so to this day.