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Maestro by Taj Mahal

Listening to Taj Mahal for the first time in more than 40 years was a look back into a time when society as a whole was in a continuous state of change and turmoil. During the turbulent 1960s, there were civil unrest, Woodstock, Vietnam, LSD, hippies, racial divide, anti war demonstrations, the British music invasion, Motown, free love, the Mi Lai massacre and the assassinations of Martin Luther King, as well as John F. Kennedy and his brother Robert Francis Kennedy. In many ways, music played a major role in satisfying the ills of those turbulent times. As a blues singer, Mahal’s message was one that provided relevance at a time when a healthy respite from the restlessness of the era was needed. With more than 30 albums to his credit and always in great demand on the concert circuit, Taj Mahal has released a new album entitled Maestro on the Heads Up International record label. Considered by many to be one of the most prominent musicians of his time, Mahal’s influence has been phenomenal. This latest recording is the culmination of Taj’s immense work over 44 years as a musician.

As an innovator, Mahal has successfully incorporated the elements of Caribbean, Hawaiian, R&B, Zydeco and world music into blues. Maestro’s perspective is a charismatic view of his multifaceted career. Tracks such as "I Can Make You Happy", "Maestro", "Black Man, Brown Man" and "Scratch My Back" all provide varying degrees of clarity. In addition, the inclusion of Ziggy Marley, Los Lobos, Ben Harper, The New Orleans Social Club and Taj’s daughter Deva adds credence to the album’s significance. Another positive impact of Maestro’s immeasurable presence is the tribute to Otis Redding on "Scratch My Back" and Mahal’s cover of one of Fats Domino’s most noteworthy songs entitled "Hello Josephine." There is also a cover of "Diddy Wah Diddy", a song made famous by the late influential blues influence Willie Dixon. All in all, Taj Mahal’s creative energy on Maestro has the same level of intensity that has fueled his music since 1964. The passionate embrace of the blues in the 21st century provides an introspective on one of America’s last great blues men.

As a musical legend, Taj Mahal has paid his dues many times over. His recording of Maestro reflects upon the blues’ influential presence in social culture and everyday existence, while focusing upon the contributions of legendary figures and other styles of music. In hindsight, Mahal did not record just another blues album, he went another further by magnifying what he has already accomplished. The social commentary that is heard on Maestro has not changed very much since the 1960s. There continues to be civil unrest, drugs, war and a host of other political ills that continue to plague society. The solace contained in Taj Mahal’s release is the foundation for what blues music has always been about historically. Maestro speaks volumes about the man and his music and places him in a stand-alone category as one of America's heralded national treasures.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Taj Mahal
  • CD Title: Maestro
  • Genre: Blues
  • Year Released: 2008
  • Record Label: Heads Up International
  • Tracks: 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 Holler, Diddy Wah Diddy
  • Musicians: Taj Mahal (guitar, harmonica, banjo, ukulele vocals), Mike Finnegan, Jason Yates, Mike Weaver (keyboards), Larry Lee Schell, David Hidalgo, Cesar Rosas, Jason Mozersky (guitar), Henry Butler (piano)
  • Rating: Four Stars
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