Blues singer and composer Taj Mahal celebrates his 40th anniversary as an award-winning recording artist with the release of his new album, Maestro. Taj gets a little help from some well-known collaborators on a mix of American roots, blues and world music.
Taj Mahal has been giving us his unique brand of blues for years, a style that includes jazz, gospel, reggae, country blues, and folk music from West Africa and the Caribbean. Taj is joined by Jack Johnson on the track, "Further On Down The Road." Other guests include singer-songwriters Ben Harper, Angelique Kidjo, Latino rockers Los Lobos, and Taj's own Phantom Blues Band.
Taj Mahal's passion for music began at home in Springfield, Massachusetts. His mother was a gospel singer and his father was a West Indian jazz arranger and pianist. Taj was an avid musician, learning to play guitar, piano, clarinet, trombone and harmonica by the time he was a teenager. After college, he moved to Los Angeles and formed a folk-blues band called The Rising Sons, featuring guitarist Ry Cooder. Although the group was short-lived, it led to Taj Mahal's debut album and the launch of his solo career in 1968.
On Maestro Taj Mahal and the New Orleans Social Club pay tribute to 1950s R&B legend Fats Domino with "Hello Josephine."
By his own admission, Taj Mahal's toughest critic may be himself.
"The one thing I've always demanded of the records I've made is that they be danceable," he says.
Of Maestro, he says, "This record is danceable, it's listenable, it has lots of different rhythms, it's accessible, and it represents where I am at this particular moment in my life."
While Maestro marks Taj Mahal's first album in five years, Taj has been busier than ever, performing more than 150 shows a year worldwide.
With his move to Hawaii in the 1980s, Taj Mahal has immersed himself in the island's music and culture. He plays guitar and ukulele on a Hawaiian-inspired original titled "Never Let You Go."