Taj Mahal trio

By Jamie Katene-Moana

Artist:  Taj Mahal Trio

Date / Venue:  Monday March 18th, The Powerstation, Auckland

When Taj Mahal walks out on stage you are immediately intrigued of what you will soon hear. Mahal and co. resemble something of a Caribbean tiki-lounge band with Mahal in his Hawaiian shirt and fedora.

Essentially this Caribbean nuance is evident in the sound and textures of the show but one cannot ignore the high-energy, dirty blues that are launched at you. Mahal's deep and sonorous vocals create a powerful commanding aura whilst sweet textures bubble underneath. The feeling of spontaneity is evident as you watch the blues unfold again, communication through music is witnessed like emotional cues when those turn-arounds come by and the faces of the band light up. It is a great thing to see, a Caribbean take on the blues.

Mahal's energy is high and commanding, a crowd pleaser in no doubt. He bellows at you and you respond, he dances across the stage and you boogie, he sweats and bangs out blues licks and magic happens in your head until you are encapsulated, and dig what he has on offer. His voice is a gravely shaking box which is perfect for his ‘scat' renditions but can meticulously rise to high registers when the going gets funk. 

One may expect that because Blues is on offer that it will be tried and tired, but the Taj Mahal trio have revamped this timeless musical style into something commanding, raw, powerhouse and attractive. Letting it wash over you is like sipping out of a coconut, with a little umbrella hat, in a dime store speak easy dive. In other words - top notch.