363

Taj Mahal: Maestro

Woodrow Wilkins By

Sign in to view read count
Taj Mahal: Maestro With a forty-year track record of recording the blues, Taj Mahal has earned the label of maestro. Now, he celebrates four decades with an album that uses that word as its theme.

Born Henry St. Clair Fredricks in 1942, Mahal has mixed a variety of cultural influences in making his music. Although primarily a vocalist, he also plays a variety of instruments, including guitar, banjo and harmonica. The two-time Grammy winner has performed with or opened for Otis Redding, the Temptations, Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters and Buddy Guy, among many others.

On Maestro, Mahal is joined on several tracks by an assortment of guests vocalists, and is backed by several bands. The Phantom Blues Band, which accompanied Mahal on his Grammy-winning recordings Senor Blues and Shoutin' in Key, joins for a cover of "Scratch My Back." Joe Sublett's grinding tenor sax solo gives this pleading anthem some extra juice and Mahal's vocal ad-lib makes a fun tune even more enjoyable.

Mahal co-wrote "Never Let You Go" with his daughter, Deva Mahal, who also performs background vocals. This quasi-reggae tune features the band Los Lobos in the background, and Trombonist Angela Wellman gives it some spirit.

Mahal plays banjo and harmonica on "Further on Down the Road," an easygoing piece that features Jack Johnson as guest vocalist. The Phantom Blues Band again provides backup. Reggae returns with "Black Man, Brown Man," a song of longing that brings in the Ziggy Marley Band, with Marley as guest vocalist. Rudy Costa delivers a delightful alto sax solo. The song also explores the topic of race.

Other guests include Ben Harper, the New Orleans Social Club, and African artists Angelique Kidjo and Toumani Diabate. Maestro features Mahal in a familiar element, particularly those songs recorded with the Phantom Blues Band, but it also is a fresh take on the kind of music that identifies Mahal.


Track Listing: Scratch My Back; Never Let You Go; Dust Me Down; Further on Down the Road; Black Man, Brown Man; Zanzibar; TV Mama; I Can Make You Happy; Slow Drag; Hello Josephine; Strong Man Holler; Diddy Wah Diddy.

Personnel: Taj Mahal: vocals, ukulele (2), guitar (3, 6, 8, 10, 11), harmonica (3, 4, 7, 8, 12), banjo (4, 5, 9); Deva Mahal: background vocals (2); Ben Harper: vocals (3); Jack Johnson: vocals (4); Ziggy Marley: vocals (5); Rudy Costa: alto saxophone (5); Angelique Kidjo: vocals (6); Toumani Diabate: kora (6); Jason Yates: keyboards (3); Michael Jerome: drums and percussion (3); Jason Mozersky: guitar (3); Jesse Ingalls: bass (3); C.C. White: background vocals (3); Pebbles Phillips: background vocals (3); Bill Rich: bass (6, 11); Kester Smith: drums (6, 11), percussion (6); Bassekou Kouyate: ngoni (6); Debra Dobkin: percussion (6); Mike Weaver: organ (11); Billy Branch: harmonica (11); Phantom Blues Band (1, 4, 9, 12); Los Lobos (2, 7); Ziggy Marley's Band (5); New Orleans Social Club (8, 10).

Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Heads Up International | Style: Blues


Shop

More Articles

Read June CD/LP/Track Review June
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 19, 2017
Read The Final Concert CD/LP/Track Review The Final Concert
by John Sharpe
Published: February 19, 2017
Read Desire & Freedom CD/LP/Track Review Desire & Freedom
by Glenn Astarita
Published: February 19, 2017
Read On Hollywood Boulevard CD/LP/Track Review On Hollywood Boulevard
by Budd Kopman
Published: February 19, 2017
Read The Motorman's Son CD/LP/Track Review The Motorman's Son
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 18, 2017
Read "Shapes" CD/LP/Track Review Shapes
by Mark Sullivan
Published: September 6, 2016
Read "Ten" CD/LP/Track Review Ten
by Jeff Winbush
Published: March 25, 2016
Read "Three Octaves Above The Sun" CD/LP/Track Review Three Octaves Above The Sun
by James Nadal
Published: August 1, 2016
Read "The Art of the Improv Trio Volume 1" CD/LP/Track Review The Art of the Improv Trio Volume 1
by Glenn Astarita
Published: November 30, 2016
Read "Untitled" CD/LP/Track Review Untitled
by Jack Bowers
Published: October 13, 2016
Read "HUJE 2015" CD/LP/Track Review HUJE 2015
by Jack Bowers
Published: May 2, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!