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Definition of a Circle

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iTunes Review

Otis Taylor has a deep command and knowledge of the blues, but to label him a bluesman is far too limiting, for there’s nothing formulaic about his music. Taylor is sincere and intense, and Definition of a Circle is an especially varied and rich recording. He offers plenty of bluesy rock and tough grooves (“Little Betty,” with screaming lead guitar by Gary Moore, “Love and Hesitation,” “Something in Your Back Pocket”), tells some complicated stories, as on “Looking Over Your Fence” about a leering, lecherous neighbor (with searing harmonica by Charlie Musselwhite), and covers political and topical subjects as well —“They Wore Blue,” a song about Hurricane Katrina, is positively spine tingling thanks in part to the beautiful background vocals by Taylor’s daughter Cassie. He also offers haunting ballads (“My Name is General Jackson”) and other stylistic hybrids that feature diverse instrumentation, including banjo, mandolin, organ, violin, cello, piano, and some fine trumpet by Ron Miles. There’s also a discordant and hypnotic piano duel (“Long Long Life”) between Taylor and jazz pianist Hiromi Uehara that’s as stunning as it is unexpected. Taylor has released an album a year since 2000 and they’re all strong, and Definition of a Circle is certainly one of his best so far.

Customer Reviews

Another Exceptional Album of Haunting Blues

The blues has been so worked over and replicated and reproduced that it's become somehow mainstream and acceptable. Predictable, even. Not so with Otis Taylor, a musical shaman who can make you laugh or make the hair on the back of your neck stand up all in one song. His repetitive, minimal, rhythm-driven tales conjure a trance-like state which is both entirely original and, I firmly believe, something very old and essential. The result is a wild and joyous thing to hear. The ballads and stories and hollers and lamentations that Otis Taylor spins are things of rare beauty and transcendent emotion.


WOW!!!! Can it get any better than this!

Dark White

It's rare that you hear something fresh in the blues. Otis Taylor's Definition of a Circle is something fresh in the blues. Simultanesously traditional and postmodern, Taylor shows the blues punks what's up.


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...
Full Bio