Picks and Pans Review: Señor Blues
Born Henry Saint Clair Fredericks, Taj Mahal has shown an uncanny ability to reinvent himself over his 35-year career. Early on, his piano teacher reportedly declared, "He'll never be a musician." Taj went on to learn more than 20 instruments. Besides demonstrating excellent technique on guitar, harmonica and Dobro, he growls and scats through 13 songs (including two originals) on this CD, ranging from folk to soul. "Señor Blues," his gutsy remake of Horace Silver's jazz classic, expertly mixes his cool vocals with percussion, a horn section and keyboard work by Jon Cleary. Taj also provides gravelly renditions of Delbert McClinton's "Having a Real Bad Day," the gospel tune "Oh Lord, Things Are Gettin' Crazy up in Here" and Otis Redding's "Mr. Pitiful."
Taj Mahal's broad stylistic and vocal range and excellent backup band make this album pulsate. Like Señor Blues, the mythical cad Taj sings about, he leaves you wanting more. (Private Music)