Folk/blues practitioner Taj Mahal's Savoy is to be savored. As one of the custodians of the blues, Mahal has long been a legend in his own time. This collection traverses a cultural-musical continuum in an indispensable residency in the annals of Black American music.
The namesake of this albumthe Savoy on Lenox Avenue in Harlemwas known as The World's Finest Ballroom and Home Of Happy Feet. In the pre-Civil Rights era, the North claimed formal equality, but segregation was still openly practiced in public venues, employment and housing. This hypocrisy briefly dissolved in the Savoy with all races free to hit the dance floor. Said Norma Miller, the Queen Of Swing (1919-2019), "The first place in the world that black and white walked through the door together was the Savoy. They were joined by a simple thing called Swing."
There are 14 songs on the album, and here is what to pick up from this capstone: "I'm Just a Lucky So And So," written by Mack David and Duke Ellington. George and Ira Gershwin's "Summertime," the Broadway classic from Porgy and Bess. "Caldonia," a jump blues written and first performed by Louis Jordan. "One For My Babyand One for the Road" has Mahal recreating the melancholy mood of the tune and lyric. You can check the album out on YouTube below.
Savoy finds Mahal's famously gravel vocals accompanied by lush period-infused jazz orchestration. Producer John Simon, who first began playing keyboards with the Electric Flag, pulls it off nicely in Mahal's former home base in Oakland at the 25th Street Recording studio.
In Savoy Taj Mahal's take on these endangered classics of the swing era shines and lovingly pulsates. It is like sitting down for a comforting, family-style meal. The music is truly mellow and soulful, and like the song says, "It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing!"
Stompin' At The Savoy;
I'm Just A Lucky So-And-So;
Gee Baby Ain't I Good To You;
Is You Is Or Is You Ain't My Baby;
Do Nothin' Till You Hear From Me;
Sweet Georgia Brown;
Taj Mahal/Maria Muldaur - Baby It's Cold Outside;
Lady Be Good;
Baby Won't You Please Come Home;
One For My Baby (And One More For The Road).
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