A two-time Grammy winner and one of the most influential American Blues and Roots artists of the past half-century is back with his first new record in five years. This twelve-track set marks the 40th anniversary of Taj Mahal's rich and varied recording career. But Maestro is more than just a tribute to past glories. With guest artists that include Ben Harper, Jack Johnson and Ziggy Marley, it captures the intensity and depth that has characterized every one of his recordings since his self-titled debut album in 1968.
Taj Mahal marks the 40th anniversary of his debut album with the release of Maestro
. It's an all-star affair featuring guest appearances by Ben Harper, Jack Johnson, Ziggy Marley's Band, Los Lobos, and quite a few others. How he continues to successfully blend so many different styles of music onto one album is certain proof of his pedigree as a musician. There are bold statements of reggae style in "Never Let You Go," and "Black Man, Brown Man." On the other hand, "Zanzibar" (featuring vocals from Angelique Kidjo, and kora from Toumani Diabate) is heavily flavored with the sound of contemporary African music. That stated, Maestro
is a blues album at its foundation and Mahal does the blues on this set as convincingly as ever. From the brassy and soulful opener "Scratch My Back," to the gritty guitar on "Dust Me Down," to the slow, sexy, and grinding "Slow Drag," Maestro
delivers on every level. The lyrics are clever and upbeat, the performances are liberated, and the album is thoroughly satisfying. ---Eric C.P. Martin