TO Jazz Review: Taj Mahal, June 27, Toronto Star Stage

TorontoTaj Mahal brought his brand of traditional blues to Nathan Phillips Square last Sunday. Most of the city was busy processing the aftershock of all that G20 smashy smashy. It seems that after basking in the unfavourable global limelight, most Torontonians have in turn looked back out at the world and the picture out yonder ain’t much rosier. Things seem to be a big ol’ global mess. We’re leaking thousands of tons of oil into the Gulf every hour, and the global financial system is a lot less resilient or stable then our economist friends would have us think.

It’s easy to look at all of this and feel hopeless. Despairing at the fact that life unfolds in unplanned, unforeseen, and uncontrollable ways is what the blues are all about. To the crowd on Sunday night, it made all the sense in the world to let their sorrows air out with Taj.

The music was straight-up blues, no chaser. Taj alternated between electric and acoustic guitars, and occasionally some work on piano. I’m not sure if it was the after effects of the Herbie Hancock show from the previous night, but I just couldn’t get into the music. The blues at its best contains an x-factor that can be hard to reproduce and impossible to fake. It typically involves the musician taking an inner journey to some uncomfortable and personal places. That’s not easy to do on demand. I didn’t feel that the x-factor was present for this show, but that in itself seemed to make sense after the surrealism of the weekend.

Posted on by Mark in Concerts, Toronto Jazz Festival