Former resident of the Hawaiian island of Kauai, Taj Majal is one of the most versatile bluesmen around, having tackled country blues, R&B, jazz, gospel, reggae and more on his 37 albums. On Sacred Island, Taj teams up with some veteran Hawaiian musicians to blend blues, traditional Hawaiian music and reggae. This is a fine eclectic release on which Mahal's dobro, harp and vocals blend surprisingly well with Hawaiian slack-key guitars, ukelele, and various reed and wind instruments. The latter are played very gracefully by the talented Carlos Andrade. High points include "Coconut Man" (a reworking of Toots Hibbert's ska classic "Monkey Man"), the title cut (a gentle and beautifully arranged instrumental), a lilting version of the Chuck Willis tune "Dupree and Betty," and a fun version of Mahal's popular "Mailbox Blues" (previously recorded under the title "Going Up To The Country, Paint My Mailbox Blue"). Sacred Island is an enjoyable follow-up to Mahal's Grammy-winning Senor Blues.
I grew up listening to my father's jazz records and listening to the radio. My dad was a musician for many years as a vocalist, bassist and drummer. His two uncles played in the Symphony of Reggio Calabria back in Italy
I grew up listening to my father's jazz records and listening to the radio. My dad was a musician for many years as a vocalist, bassist and drummer. His two uncles played in the Symphony of Reggio Calabria back in Italy. So music and jazz specifically have been a part of me since I was born. I love and perform in all styles of music from around the world. Improvisation in jazz is what drew me in, and still does as well as other genres that feature improvisation. A group of great musicians expressing themselves as one is the hallmark of great jazz and in fact all great music.