Four-time Grammy-winning roots music legend Taj Mahal announces April 28 release of new album ‘Savoy’ on Stony Plain Records.
FORMAT CD, LP, DL & STREAM
LABEL STONY PLAIN RECORDS
RELEASE DATE APRIL 28 2023
Taj Mahal can rightfully be called a living legend for his contributions to popular music. With a voice as instantly recognizable as Louis Armstrong, Ray Charles, or Johnny Cash, throughout his career Taj has pushed the envelope of American roots music forward by incorporating sounds from the Caribbean, Africa, traditional blues and jazz.
With Savoy, Taj takes a new direction in his musical journey, exploring a collection of blues tinged classic material with his good friend and acclaimed record producer John Simon, whose resume includes producing classic albums by The Band, Leonard Cohen, Gordon Lightfoot and Blood Sweat & Tears. Recording Savoy is the realization of a musical collaboration they had been discussing for decades, finally locking in the studio time in Oakland, California to make it happen in August, 2022.
In the introduction to the first track ‘Stompin’ at the Savoy’, Taj Mahal talks about his parents meeting for the first time at the famous Savoy Ballroom in Harlem during the initial run of Ella Fitzgerald with the Chick Webb Band in 1938, writes Stony Plain Records co-founder Holger Petersen in the album’s informative liner notes. The album is a loving throwback to the sounds of the swing jazz big band era. With guest vocals of Maria Muldaur on ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’ and Evan Price’s violin on two tracks, the album covers 14 standards composed by the likes of Duke Ellington, Louis Jordan, George Gershwin and Louis Armstrong, brought to life by the unique voice and character of the one and only Taj Mahal.
Taj Mahal & Maria Muldaur – Baby, It’s Cold Outside (Lyric Video)
Savoy was recorded at 25th Street Recording in Oakland with engineer Gabriel Shepard. Taj showed up the first day about 1:00 PM and settled in with cups of sweet tea. Backing Taj Mahal vocals and harmonica on Savoy is a rhythm section comprised of Danny Caron – guitar; Ruth Davies – bass; John Simon – piano; and Leon Joyce, Jr. – drums; with background vocals by Carla Holbrook, Leesa Humphrey and Charlotte McKinnon.
On the first day of recording, the band was running down John Simon’s arrangement of ‘Stompin’ at the Savoy’ with encouragement from Taj. Chick Webb had the first hit with the song in 1934 and Ella later recorded it with Louis Armstrong. Taj said, “It needs a little more sashay. You’ll know it when you hear it.” Co-Executive Producer Holger Petersen who was at the session shares, “and everybody did! Taj’s scat singing is a highlight. Except for “Killer Joe, fans would likely have heard all the others at one time or another at the Savoy Ballroom during its long run from 1926 to 1958. This is a Taj album like no other and a deep part of his long history.”
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