Alys Stephens Center presents blues man Taj Mahal on March 22

By on March 4, 2014
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The University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center will present Taj Mahal on Saturday, March 22.

This will be blues and world music man Taj Mahal’s second visit to the ASC. The show is scheduled for 8 p.m. in the Jemison Concert Hall at the ASC, 1200 10th Ave. South. Tickets are $62.50, $53.50 and $43.50. For tickets, call 205-975-2787 or visit www.AlysStephens.org.

This composer, multi-instrumentalist and vocalist is one of the most prominent and influential figures in late 20th century blues and roots music. His career began more than four decades ago with American blues; but his artistic scope has continually broadened over the years to include music from all over the world — west Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America, Europe, the Hawaiian Islands and more, according to his bio. His passion and curiosity have led him around the world, and that global perspective is reflected in his music.

Mahal grew up in Springfield, Mass. His father, of Caribbean descent, was a jazz pianist, composer and arranger, while his mother was a gospel-singing schoolteacher from South Carolina. His parents encouraged their children to take pride in their diverse ethnic and cultural roots. Young Mahal learned to play the piano, clarinet, trombone and harmonica, and always loved to sing. Musicians from the Caribbean, Africa and all over the United States frequently visited the family home, where many dialects were spoken. As a teen, he was fortunate to have a guitarist move in next door who taught him the various styles of legends Muddy Waters, Lightnin’ Hopkins, John Lee Hooker and Jimmy Reed, along with other titans of Delta and Chicago blues. This diversity of musical experience was the foundation for Mahal’s first recordings.

Released in 2008, “Maestro: Celebrating 40 Years” is a 12-track set that marks the 40th anniversary of Mahal’s rich recording career. Featuring original material, “chestnuts” borrowed from classic sources and songs written by a cadre of highly talented guest artists, the anniversary recording includes performances by Ben Harper, Jack Johnson, Ziggy Marley, Angelique Kidjo, Los Lobos, and others who have been directly influenced by Mahal’s music and guidance.

From those early years, through musical explorations that resulted in an eclectic recording catalog and multiple Grammy awards, Mahal said of his anniversary recording, “Even at the end of 40 years, in many ways my music is just getting started.”

In celebration of his 70th birthday, Mahal released “The Hidden Treasures of Taj Mahal 1969-1973,” the first of a series of volumes to be issued. It contains alternative and previously unreleased tracks, with one studio disc and one live disc, recorded at the Royal Albert Hall in 1970.

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