Wednesday Night Music Byte
Lynnrockets recently watched the film Julie & Julia about a thirty year old New Yorker who decided to cook every dish in one of Julia Childs’ cookbooks and to blog about it. It was a novel idea so we decided to copy it. No, we will not be cooking in the usual sense (that could start a fire). Rather, we will adapt the recipe a day concept to our nightly music bytes. From now to infinity (didn’t somebody else coin that phrase?) we will post a music video and brief description of the artist or song in a sort of alphabetical order as culled from Tom Moon’s wonderful reference book, 1,000 Recordings To Hear Before You Die (A Listener’s Life List). The book describes both whole albums (remember those) and individual songs from all music genres that are essential listening. Do yourselves a favor and purchase this book. Where the book deals with an individual song, we will post that song, but when an entire album is the subject, we will exercise judicial discretion and post a single song therefrom. So what do you say, let’s get cooking…
Taj Mahal The Natch’l Blues – “Corinna” (1968)
Henry Saint Clair Fredericks (born May 17, 1942), who uses the stage name Taj Mahal, is an internationally recognized blues musician with two Grammy Awards to date who folds various forms of world music into his offerings. A self-taught singer-songwriter and film composer who plays the guitar, banjo and harmonica (among many other instruments), Mahal has done much to reshape the definition and scope of blues music over the course of his almost 50 year career by fusing it with nontraditional forms, including sounds from the Caribbean, Africa and the South Pacific.
Mahal leads with his thumb and middle finger when fingerpicking, rather than with his index finger as the majority of guitar players do. “I play with a flatpick,” he says, “when I do a lot of blues leads.” Early in his musical career Mahal studied the various styles of his favorite blues singers, including musicians like Jimmy Reed, Son House, Sleepy John Estes, Big Mama Thornton, Howlin’ Wolf, Mississippi John Hurt, and Sonny Terry. He describes his hanging out at clubs like Club 47 in Massachusetts and Ash Grove in Los Angeles as “basic building blocks in the development of his music.” Considered to be a scholar of blues music, his studies of ethnomusicology at the University of Massachusetts would come to introduce him further to the folk music of the Caribbean and West Africa. Over time he incorporated more and more African roots music into his musical palette, embracing elements of reggae, calypso, jazz, zydeco, rhythm and blues, gospel music, and the country blues—each of which having “served as the foundation of his unique sound.” According to The Rough Guide to Rock, “It has been said that Taj Mahal was one of the first major artists, if not the very first one, to pursue the possibilities of world music. Even the blues he was playing in the early 70s — ‘Recycling The Blues & Other Related Stuff’ (1972), ‘Mo’ Roots’ (1974) — showed an aptitude for spicing the mix with flavours that always kept him a yard or so distant from being an out-and-out blues performer.” Concerning his voice, author David Evans writes that Mahal has “an extraordinary voice that ranges from gruff and gritty to smooth and sultry.”