By Bobby Reed | Published June 2017
In recent years, the sad, unfortunate passing of B.B. King (1925–2015) and James Cotton (1935–2017) has made singer-guitarist Taj Mahal’s role as an elder statesman of the blues even more important. The superb new album TajMo represents his first collaboration with another blues veteran, singer-guitarist Keb’ Mo’. The result is an 11-track gem that illustrates the tremendous benefits of teamwork. This esteemed blues duo has recruited a bevy of powerhouse guests, and each makes valuable contributions. Blues star Billy Branch adds excellent harmonica work to “Don’t Leave Me Here,” (which was composed by Mahal, Keb’ Mo’ and Gary Nicholson), while Lizz Wright (vocals), Lee Oskar (harmonica) and Joe Walsh (electric guitar) provide wonderful textures on the transcendent “Om Sweet Om.” Walsh offers a stinging electric guitar solo on “Shake Me In Your Arms,” an ode to sensuality. A lively rendition of “Squeeze Box” (which Pete Townsend wrote for The Who) features both Jeff Taylor’s lead accordion and Phil Madeira’s rhythm accordion, and Sheila E. plays six percussion instruments on the track. The program concludes with a poignant reading of the John Mayer pop hit “Waiting On The World To Change,” with the inimitable Bonnie Raitt singing with the two co-leaders. This polished, engaging album will provide these two blues titans with great material for their collaborative tour, which includes dates in San Diego (June 11), Seattle (June 18), London (July 7), Lucerne, Switzerland (July 23), New York City (Aug. 13), Dallas (Sept. 20) and many other cities.