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Recapturing the Banjo

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iTunes Review

The earliest roots of the banjo trace to West Africa, but as the instrument made it to the New World in the hands of incoming slaves, it quickly found a home in the culture of white rural Americans. During the early part of the 20th century, the banjo still held a fairly significant position in African-American musical life, utilized by blues, jazz, and jug musicians alike, but by the 1950s, it had become predominantly identified with Appalachian folk and bluegrass (thanks in large part to players such as Pete Seeger and Earl Scruggs). Sadly, many black musicians shied away from the banjo because of its associations with slavery, minstrelsy, and backwoods. Yet, as the century closed, a new generation of black bluesmen found creative outlet in the instrument — Otis Taylor, Guy Davis, Corey Harris, Alvin Youngblood Hart, and Keb’ Mo’ among them — and these five kindred spirits form the core of this intriguing collection. Taylor contributes several harrowing originals, including “Ran So Hard the Sun Went Down” and “Simple Mind,” both benefitting from a four-banjo attack. Ron Miles adds cornet on a few tunes, including “Absinthe,” a sinister, second-line-style march that features Hart on lap steel and Keb’ Mo’s son on percussion, and the jaunty Creole children’s number, “Les Ognons.”

Customer Reviews

Deserves a Grammy

One of the most creative albums in ages. Where else can you hear Blues, Bluegrass, folk, AND a Hendrix cover all in one place? Definitely NOT a case of too many cooks spoiling the broth on this one. Not your father's banjo music. A genre-bender.

Excellent Project Album

This is an excellent album featuring the most gifted of the younger bluesmen around today. The point of the album was to feature the banjo in many different styles and eras of music and it was a great success. It is very creative and the musicianship is first rate.

Today! My ears were revolutionized!!!

Ok... Call me a bandwagoner, or whatever you want! I am writing this today say before going to see "Public Enemies" I had no idea who is Otis Taylor! I know now! Wow! I was blown away by the song "Ten Million Slaves" in the movie! I went to buy the song from the soundtrack and it is "Not available!" (Thank you itunes... your stubborness is my gain! I searched Otis Taylor and found the BEST CD I have heard this year! WoW! Is all I can say!!!


Born: 1948 in Chicago, IL

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '70s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Bluesman Otis Taylor never skirted tough subject matter in a career that took him from the Folklore Center in Denver to a brief stay in London, England, to retirement from music in 1977, to being a successful antiques broker and, since 1995, back again to the blues. Taylor's 2001 CD White African (Northern Blues Music), featuring Kenny Passarelli (bass, keyboards) and Eddie Turner (lead guitar), became his most direct and personal statement about the experiences of African-Americans. He addressed...
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