Always expanding the borders and our expectations of what modern blues music can be, Otis Taylor has given us a thoughtful and dynamic release with “My World Is Gone” featuring Mato Nanji.
Starting with the title track we have a soft but driven track that features Mato Nanji on some beautiful lead guitar while sharing lead vocals with Mr. Taylor. It is a story of how the Native Americans world has vanished and may very well never return. Beautiful fiddle work by Ms. Anne Harris creates a wind like lightness to this track and in doing so she allows the other artists use her sound to attach their individual contributions to the base she has constructed making for a wonderful feel and ride.
“Lost My Horse” is a throbbing bass driven depiction of a Navajo man who loses his horse due to over consumption of alcohol. The bass is provided by Mr. Todd Edmunds, and the drumming of Mr. Larry Thompson accentuates that pulsing bottom end, as Mr. Nanji displays some fiery guitar work in a very familiar pattern that Mr. Taylor’s fans will recognize.
Mr. Taylor has been a proponent in reclaiming the banjo as an African instrument, and this release provides a solid ground for it’s greater acceptance in the blues world as well. “The Wind Comes In” is a tightly constructed amalgam of an older style banjo tune with Mr. Taylor’s’ iconic ‘trance blues’ music. It has created an interesting juxtaposition between the ultra-modern ripping guitar work against the softer old world sound of the banjo and they compliment each other very well. This is true blues for the twenty-first century and beyond.
Speaking of blues into the future, I must visit the track “Huckleberry Blues”. With a rhythmic banjo introduction (and base for all the other instruments) we get treated to Ron Miles playing the coronet which adds a certain jazz flavor to the mix. Larry Thompson works the drums with a passion and most unique sense of rhythm. As a listener I heard drum beats that were not there but merely suggested. The tune works wonderful circles with the banjo, coronet and Mr. Taylor’s vocals.
A more traditional (familiar) banjo tune would be the “Jae Jae Waltz” wherein a widow is being courted at a dance. The banjo here is finger plucked setting the table for Mr. Miles coronet serenade and some very nice tuba work by Mr. Edmunds.
“Green Apples” brings us true the ‘trance blues’ experience. Musical patterns repeat, posing as simplicity – but listen with your soul and not just your ears, the depth will be revealed to you. There is a complex interplay between Mr. Taylor and Mr. Shawn Starski on the guitars as each holds their space in time. This level of complexity that these artists construct is so contingent upon their individual abilities to be creative, yet structured and play off of each other. It is always interesting that this band’s music carries the live performance vibe to the recording studio, something that many bands cannot accomplish.
This is another amazing release from Mr. Taylor and his band. The blues will stay alive and most certainly thriving as long as these folks continue to create music that is both sensual and accessible and not in the set pattern that sometimes seems to define the blues these days.
Love, Peace & Chicken Grease
Where Blues Thrives
Photos: Courtesy of artists