Make a difference: Support jazz online

Support All About Jazz Your friends at All About Jazz are looking for readers to help back our website upgrade project. Of critical importance, this project will result in a vastly improved design across all devices and will make future All About Jazz projects much easier to implement. Click here to learn more about this project including donation rewards.

363

Taj Mahal: Maestro

Woodrow Wilkins By

Sign in to view read count
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, guitar, harmonica, banjo; Ben Harper: vocals; Angelique Kidkjo: vocals: Jack Johnson: vocals; Ziggy Marley: vocals; C.C. White: background vocals; Deva Mahal: background vocals; Tracy Hazzard: backing vocals; Pebbles Phillips: background vocals; Leo Nocentelli: guitar; Johnny Lee Schell: guitar; David Hidalgo: guitar; Cesar Rosas: guitar; Jason Mozersky: guitar; Takeshi Akimoto: guitar; Ivan Neville: B3 organ; Henry Butler: piano; Mike Finnigan: keyboards; Jason Yates: keyboards; Mick Weaver: keyboards; Michael Hyde: keyboards; Steve Berlin: organ, baritone saxophone, tenor saxophone; Larry Fulcher: bass; Conrad Lozano: bass; Jesse Ingalls: bass; Paul "Pablo" Stennett: bass; Bill Rich: bass; George Porter: bass; Tony Braunagel: drums; Cougar Estrada: drums; Michael Jerome: drums, percussion; Debra Dobkin: percussion; Angel Roche: percussion; Louie Perez: jarana; Carlton "Santa" Davis; Raymond Weber: drums, rub board; Kester Smith: drums; Joe Sublett: tenor saxophone; Darrell Leonard: trumpet, trombonium; Rudy Costa: alto saxophone; Angela Wellman: trombone; Billy Branch: harmonica; Bassekou Kouyate: ngoni; Toumani Diabate: kora.

Title: Maestro | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Heads Up International

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Lucas CD/LP/Track Review Lucas
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: January 22, 2018
Read In Paris: The Definitive ORTF Recording CD/LP/Track Review In Paris: The Definitive ORTF Recording
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: January 22, 2018
Read D'Agala CD/LP/Track Review D'Agala
by Mark Corroto
Published: January 22, 2018
Read Not Bound CD/LP/Track Review Not Bound
by Don Phipps
Published: January 22, 2018
Read Not Nearly Enough To Buy A House CD/LP/Track Review Not Nearly Enough To Buy A House
by Mark Sullivan
Published: January 21, 2018
Read Journey to a New World CD/LP/Track Review Journey to a New World
by Troy Dostert
Published: January 21, 2018
Read "Roberto Magris Sextet Live In Miami @ The WDNA Jazz Gallery" CD/LP/Track Review Roberto Magris Sextet Live In Miami @ The WDNA Jazz Gallery
by Karl Ackermann
Published: December 2, 2017
Read "Think Ahead" CD/LP/Track Review Think Ahead
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: July 8, 2017
Read "Tilt" CD/LP/Track Review Tilt
by Karl Ackermann
Published: May 18, 2017
Read "Beginnings" CD/LP/Track Review Beginnings
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: September 12, 2017
Read "Process And Reality" CD/LP/Track Review Process And Reality
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 24, 2017
Read "Proverbe" CD/LP/Track Review Proverbe
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 15, 2017