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About this clip:
Blues legend Taj Mahal performs a tribute to saxophonist Lester Young with his version of the 1924 Gershwin classic “Lady Be Good” during his performance on August 4, 2023, part of Summer Sessions 2023, broadcast on Fridays Live.
About the concert:
Two-time GRAMMY-winning blues icon Taj Mahal is the closest thing we have to an American griot. His Summer Sessions concerts are the world premiere performances of material from his new album Savoy — a jazz-inflected tribute to the music of his childhood and the legendary Harlem ballroom of the 30s,40s, and 50s, featuring his singular interpretations of Great American Songbook classics including “Stompin’ at the Savoy,” “Summertime,” and “Gee Baby, Ain’t I Good To You.” He is joined on these dates by a group of special guests including iconic vocalist Maria Muldaur.
The project has special meaning for Mahal — his parents met at the Savoy during an Ella Fitzgerald concert and the music of that era was the soundtrack of his early life. In his words, “I heard (the songs on Savoy) as a kid when all of those people who made those musics were alive and speaking to us through the records.”
Since his first release 50 years ago with the Rising Sons, which he founded with Ry Cooder, Taj has been a cultural force, bringing blues culture to new generations. His music embraces the raw energy of field hollers, the rent-party gumption of early jazz, the urbane grooves of rhythm and blues, the church-derived cadences of soul music and the rhythms of West Africa, via New Orleans and the Caribbean.
Equal parts preservationist and visionary, Taj Mahal wields his expressive growl of a voice to conjure an era when social gatherings without live music were simply unthinkable.
Taj Mahal: guitar, harmonica, vocals
Maria Muldaur: vocals
Sandy Cressman: vocals
Carla Holbrook: vocals
Destani Wolf: vocals
Sheldon Brown: saxophone, flute, clarinet
Erik Jekabson: trumpet
Mike Rinta: trombone
Lincoln Adler: saxophone
Evan Price: violin
Danny Caron: guitar
John Simon: piano
Ruth Davies: bass
Leon Joyce, Jr.: drums
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