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Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal & The Phantom Blues Band - Shoutin' in Key Live - 2000 - Hannibal

A gem of an elbum by the great Taj Mahal. This album incorporates a great eclectic mix of many different blues influences, and his back up band are truly Grade A. Check out "The Road to Escondido" (with J.J. Cale & Eric Clapton0, "Mo' Roots," and his "Señor Blues" albums.


Honky Tonk - Bill Doggett, Clifford Scott, Billy Butler, Berisford "Shep" Shepherd
EZ Rider - Taj Mahal
Ain't That a Lot of Love - Homer Banks
Ev'ry Wind [In the River] - Taj Mahal, Patrick Dollaghan
Stranger in My Own Home Town - Percy Mayfield
Woulda Could Shoulda - Taj Mahal
Leaving Trunk - unknown
Rain from the Sky - Delroy Wilson
Mailbox Blues - Taj Mahal
Cruisin' - Taj Mahal, Johnny Lee Schell
Corrina - Taj Mahal, Jesse Ed Davis
The Hoochi Coochi Coo -Hank Ballard, Billy Myles
Sentidos Dulce (Sweet Feelings) - Taj Mahal


Taj Mahal (guitar, dobro, harmonica, percussion);
Denny Freeman (guitar);
Mick Weaver (piano, Hammond B-3 organ);
Larry Fulcher (bass, background vocals);
Tony Braunagel (drums, percussion).
The Texicali Horns: Joe Sublett (soprano & tenor saxophones); Darrell Leonard (trumpet, flugelhorn, trombonium).

Recorded at The Mint, Los Angeles, California on November 9, 10 & 11, 1998.


Recorded live over three nights in Los Angeles in 1998, Shoutin' in Key provides an accurate snapshot of late-1990s Taj and his all-inclusive view of the blues. In fact, blues is really just one ingredient in a stew that offers hard-driving, horn-fueled R&B, gently swaying Caribbean-style rhythms, slow-burning soul, loose reggae jams, 12-bar stomps, smart jazzy grooves, and polished country-blues updates. On this album, he's most compelling the further afield he moves. His reading of Delroy Wilson's "Rain from the Sky," a Jamaican standard, is a highlight here, as is his own Latin-jazz-infused instrumental, "Sentidos Dulce." And he delivers fine readings of signature songs like "Mail Box Blues," "Corrina," and "Leavin' Trunk" as well. While he's not at his most consistently inspired throughout, there are certainly enough high points to make this a worthwhile introduction to the Mahal style. © Marc Greilsamer, © 1996-2008, Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates.

A rock solid performer with a deep bag of material and genres to draw from, Taj Mahal is a first-rate musician who delivers live as well as he does in the studio. On this set recorded at The Mint in Los Angeles during a set of dates in November 1998, Mahal pulls together a back-up band of crack musicians whose resumes include stints playing behind legends Otis Rush, B.B. King, and Buddy Guy. For this set, Taj's selections run the gamut from a punchy reading of Sam & Dave's "Ain't That a Lot of Love" to an easy-going version of the classic Bill Dogget instrumental "Honky Tonk." Other artists benefiting from the attention of this itinerant bluesman are reggae legend Delroy Wilson ("Rain from the Sky"), musical godfather Sleepy John Estes ("Leavin' Trunk"), and masterful songwriter Percy Mayfield ("Stranger in My Own Home Town"). In addition to standing up fine alongside these covers, Mahal's own material also covers broad stylistic ground. Among the highlights are the loping harp-laden "Mail Box Blues," country-blues of "Corrina" and bossa nova flavored instrumental "Sentidos Dulce." © 2000-2008 H&B Recordings Direct. All rights reserved

Venerable blues great Taj Mahal has managed to release an overwhelming 39 albums over the course of his 32-year recording career. It’s hard to believe he could still have something more to say — and yet he does. Last year, he collaborated with West African kora master Toumani Diabate for the critically-acclaimed Kulanjan, and his latest effort Shoutin’ in Key was recorded live with his Phantom Blues Band over the course of three nights at The Mint in Los Angeles. Mahal no doubt keeps things interesting for himself by tackling a variety of disparate projects. He’s a noted singer, songwriter, and composer, and he has worked in movies, television, and on Broadway. In addition, Mahal plays more than 20 instruments, including bass, banjo, guitar, dulcimer, piano, harmonica, and assorted flutes. He has used this knowledge to expand and soak the blues in everything from zydeco to R&B, from West African music to rock, and from Carribean styles to jazz. With the exception of the reggae-tinged Rain from the Sky and the concluding Sentidos Dulce, Shoutin’ in Key is a more straight-forward blues album for Mahal. Nevertheless, it is a potent set that captures the energy and excitement of seeing him perform live. His Ray Charles-infected vocals inject a bit of soul into the Americana roots atmosphere of Ev’ry Wind (in the River), so it’s not really a surprise to hear Mahal also tackle the Percy Mayfield/Ray Charles composition Stranger in My Own Home Town. Naturally, the set also includes Mahal classics like Corrina and Mail Box Blues, but the icing on the cake is the final track Sentidos Dulce. The song’s light Latin-jazz fusion of horns, organ, and guitar soars with a sentimental swing that’s truly hard to beat. © John Metzger [ First Appeared at The Music Box, July 2000, Volume 7, #7 www.musicbox-online.com/tm-key.html

Recorded at the Mint in Los Angeles in November 1998, Shouting in Key showcases Taj Mahal in a live and electric set with the Phantom Blues Band. Starting off the proceedings with a lazy version of Bill Dogget's classic instrumental "Honky Tonk," the band proceeds to glide through the jazzy Latin-tinged instrumental "Sentidos Dulce," the "Give Me Some Lovin" takeoff "Aint That a Lot of Love," and the B-3 ballad "Woulda Coulda Shoulda." The eclectic pace for the remainder of the set incorporates folk, soul, and reggae, proving Taj Mahal and his band can achieve the combination effortlessly and sound like they had a good time doing it. © Al Campbell, All Music Guide


Taj Mahal has spent more than 40 years exploring the roots and branches of the blues. Grounded in the acoustic pre-war blues sound but drawn to the eclectic sounds of world music, he revitalized a dying tradition and prepared the way for a new generation of blues men and women. While many African Americans shunned older musical styles during the 1960s, Mahal immersed himself in the roots of his past. "I was interested in the music because I felt something [got] lost in that transition of blacks trying to assimilate into society," he told Art Tipaldi in Blues Review. He had no intention of repeating what had come before, however, and drew deeply from the wells of the ethnic music of Africa, South America, and the Caribbean. "Mahal began as a blues interpreter," noted Ira Mayer in the New Rolling Stone Record Guide, "but his music has since encompassed rock, traditional Appalachian sounds, jazz, calypso, reggae, and a general tendency toward experimentation and assimilation." Mahal was born Henry Saint Claire Fredericks in New York City in 1942. His father, who had emigrated from the Caribbean, wrote arrangements for Benny Goodman and played piano. His mother, Mildred Shields, had taught school in South Carolina. "Even though I have Southern and Caribbean roots, my background also crossed with indigenous European and African influences," Mahal told John Ephland in Down Beat. "My parents introduced me to gospel, spiritual singing, to Ella, Sarah, Mahalia Jackson, Ray Charles." Mahal also listened to music from around the world on his father's short-wave radio, and developed a love for blues artists like Leadbelly and Lightnin' Hopkins, and early rock-n-rollers like Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley. Mahal's family moved when he was a young boy and he grew up in Massachusetts. Tipaldi wrote, "Growing up in Springfield, Mass., Mahal was a rarity--a young African American who immersed himself in the study of his cultural heritage." At age 11 he witnessed the death of his father in a farming accident, but he found solace in music. When his mother remarried, he discovered his stepfather's guitar in the basement and learned to play it with a broken comb. He also took lessons from Lynnwood Perry and absorbed the radio sounds of jazz players like Illinois Jacquet and Ben Webster. Although he is primarily known as a guitarist, Mahal mastered an arsenal of instruments including piano, banjo, mandolin, and harmonica. Mahal studied agriculture and animal husbandry at the University of Massachusetts. A dream inspired him to change his name from Fredericks, and he formed Taj Mahal and the Elektras in the early 1960s. "I was lucky enough to have my ideas coincide with the '60s and the resurgence of the blues," Mahal told Curt Wozniak in the Grand Rapids Press. He attended the Newport Folk Festival in the early 1960s to witness the folk and blues revival first hand. The opportunity to watch traditional blues players perform and meet the artists in person reinforced his decision to play acoustic guitar. After graduating in 1964 Mahal moved to Los Angeles and formed the Rising Sons with Ry Cooder. The group signed with Columbia, but the label was unsure how to market the eclectic group. In Turn! Turn! Turn!, Richie Unterberger declared that "their eclecticism was unmatched on the L.A. scene, with a repertoire including electrified country blues and traditional folk tunes." Although the Rising Sons released one single, the rest of the band's recorded material remained locked away in Columbia's vaults until 1992. After the Rising Sons broke up, Mahal remained with Columbia and recorded his self-titled debut album, Taj Mahal. The album "was a startling statement in its time and has held up remarkably well," according to Bruce Eder in All Music Guide. The follow-up album, The Natch'l Blues, was equally well received. Mahal, however, soon revealed his penchant for going his own way, recording the half electric, half acoustic double album Giant Step in 1969. "Those three records built Mahal's reputation as an authentic yet unique modern-day bluesman," praised Steve Huey in All Music Guide. Mahal continued to explore new directions in the 1970s. Happy Just to Be Like I Am surveyed Caribbean rhythms, while The Real Thing added New Orleans tuba. In 1973 he recorded the soundtrack for the movie Sounder, and the following year released Mo' Roots, an album heavily influenced by reggae. In 1976 Mahal left Columbia for Warner Brothers, where he recorded three albums in 1977 alone. After remaining relatively silent through much of the 1980s, Mahal recorded the well-received Taj in 1987. He then released Shake Sugaree, the first of several children's albums, and recorded a musical score for Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston's lost play, Mule Bone, for which he received a Grammy nomination. He signed with Private Music and released Dancing the Blues in 1993 and Phantom Blues in 1996. "Mahal is a fine interpreter," declared Roberta Penn in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, "breezy and light on love tunes, righteous and randy on cheatin' songs, and soulful and shouting on the dance numbers." Phantom Blues also included high-profile guest appearances by guitarist Eric Clapton and singer Bonnie Raitt. Mahal told Jim McGuinness in the Bergen County, New Jersey, Record, "The album is designed to go down some familiar trails, but to look at new things." In 1997 he won a Grammy for Señor Blues. Mahal's next music project grew out of his 15-year residency in Hawaii during the 1980s and 1990s. Joining with the Hula Blues Band, he recorded Sacred Island in 1998, and followed it with Taj Mahal and the Hula Blues the same year and Hanapepe Dream in 2003. The latter album included unusual versions of Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower" and John Hurt's "Stagger Lee." "My approach to the blues," Mahal told Andrew S. Hughes in the South Bend Tribune, "is more universal and inclusive as opposed to exclusive." Hanapepe Dream would also be the first of his albums to be released on his on label, Kan-Du. He started the label, he told Hughes, "as a place for young talent to come in ... a place where I can have a lot more control over what it is that I do musically." Mahal also received several acting roles in popular films, including the Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood in 2002 and Killer Diller in 2004. If the mixing of genres such as blues, Zydeco, gospel, and Latin music seems natural today, it is because of pioneers like Mahal. He opened up myriad possibilities for young artists who wanted to expand their musical palette beyond traditional blues. Robert Christgau wrote in the Village Voice, "In the '90s, Guy Davis, Keb' Mo', Corey Harris, and Alvin Youngblood Hart, all flowing out of the surge in cultural consciousness that ensued as the offspring of the civil rights generation came into their own, prove Taj Mahal a prophet." While proud of his accomplishments, Mahal has remained more interested in pursuing current projects. He has recorded more than 25 albums and traveled throughout the world, continuing to explore new musical veins, playing as many as 200 dates a year, and releasing a steady stream of albums. Allan Orski noted in MusicHound Folk, "Whether he's with a full band playing pop arrangements or stripped-down roots, Mahal has asserted himself ... as a keeper of the faith and a still vital force that continues to roam past musical boundaries." © Ronnie D. Lankford Jr


Anonymous said...

Another great post.
Cheers Steve

A.O.O.F.C said...

Thanks a million, Steve

Anonymous said...

what a pity, dead link,will you please re-post, thank you very much

A.O.O.F.C said...

Hi,Anonymous. Try


All credit to that blog. Thanks