Wednesday, December 24, 2008

ALBUM REVIEW: Taj Mahal - Maestro

Taj Mahal - Maestro by E. F Nesta

Maestro is a look at 40 years of Taj Mahal's friends, family, influences, and danceable music.

Maestro: 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, Ukulele, Harmonica, Banjo; Deva Mahal: Background Vocals; Phantom Blues Band: Larry Fulcher: Bass; Tony Braunagel: Drums; Johnny Lee Schell: Guitar; Mike Finnigan: Keyboards; Joe Sublett: Tenor Saxophone; Darrel Leonard: Trumpet; Los Lobos: David Hidalgo: Guitar; Cesar Rosas: Guitar; Louie Perez: Jarana; Conrad Lozano: Bass; Steve Berlin: Organ; Cougar Estrada: Drums; Angela Wellman: Trombone; Ben Harper: Vocals; Band: Jason Yates: Keyboards; Michael Jerome: Drums, Percussion; Jesse Ingalls: Bass; C. C. White: Background Vocals; Pebbles Phillips; Background Vocals; Jack Johnson: Vocals; Ziggy Marley: Vocals; Rudy Costa: Alto Saxophone; Carlton Sanat Davis: Drums; Michael Hyde: Keyboards; Tracy Hazzard: Backing Vocals; Takeshi Akimoto: Guitar; Angel Roche: Percussion; Paul "Pablo" Stennett: Bass; Angelique Kidjo: Vocals; Toumani Diabate: Kora; Bill Rich: Bass; Kester Smith: Drums, Percussion; Bassekou Kouyate: Ngoni; Debra Dobkin: Percussion; New Orleans Social Club: Ivan Neville: B3 Organ; George Porter: Bass; Leo Nocentelli: Guitar; Henry Butler: Piano; Raymond Weber: Drums; Mick Weaver: B3 Organ; Billy Branch: Harmonica

Taj Mahal Maestro is a celebration of 40 Years of music and marks Taj's first U. S. release in five years and his debut release on the Heads Up label. Maestro brings together four decades of music, four decades of scouring the world and melding musical influences, four decades of digging into the depths of melody and rhythm, and four decades of friendships, respect, and collaboration. Staying true to his belief that music should be danceable, Maestro will definitely have you rolling up the rug.

Maestro is like a twelve act play telling the story of Taj's 40-year musical journey. The lead track is the cover of Scratch My Back, written by James Moore and made famous by Otis Redding. Taj, at an early age, was a member of the opening band during an Otis Redding concert and as Taj states regarding Otis, "his fiery stage performance grabbed me," and in his cover of Scratch My Back this influence is heard through his commanding vocals with the assistance of the Phantom Blues Band. The journey continues from his time in Hawaii with Taj on Ukulele along with help from family in the form of backing vocals from his daughter Deva Mahal as they perform their co-written Never Let You Go, with friends from the band Los Lobos.

Long time friend Ben Harper joins Taj as they scratch out Ben's song Dust Me Down with the support of a Who's Who of musicians (Jason Yates, Michael Jerome, Jason Mozersky, Jess Ingalls, C. C. White, and Pebbles Phillips). Taj's Further on Down the Road welcomes Jack Johnson on vocals to complement Taj on vocals, harmonica, and banjo along with the Phantom Blues Band. From the 1970's comes Black Man, Brown Man written by Taj from his Caribbean, African, Latin, and reggae influences and he is accompanied by Ziggy Marley and his band. Turning to another chapter of his life and music is the African track Zanzibar that Taj co-wrote with Angelique Kidjo and features Toumani Diabate playing the kora, a 21-string harp from West Africa.

The spirited whiskey blues track TV Mama reunites Taj with Los Lobos; the track I Can Make You Happy follows with Taj's gritty vocals belting out "I can make you happy, I can make you sad," with the backing of the extraordinary New Orleans Social Club. The track Hello Josephine is a tribute to Fats Domino and he is backed again by the New Orleans Social Club.

The release includes a couple more Taj tracks, Slow Drag an Appalachian backwoods song with Taj on banjo, and Strong Man Holler with Taj's deep soulful blues vocals. Maestro saves the best for last with the cover of Diddy Wah Diddy as Taj's vocals and harmonica along with the Phantom Blues Band are on fire with this roadhouse track, and true to his belief, you will be dancing.

E.F Nesta is the owner, contributing writer, and Publisher of Luxury Experience Magazine (

Luxury Experience Magazine is a monthly magazine that features experiential editorials on luxury products and services; we do not book reservations or sell products on-line.

Luxury Experience Magazine's mission is to provide experiential editorial exposure on luxury products and services, and introduce brands and products to an audience across 80 countries.

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