|Variety, March 12, 1980|
Taj Mahal/Leo Kottke
Carnegie Hall, N.Y.
Taj Mahal presented an encyclopedic look at black musical styles at what appeared to be a sold out New Audiences presentation at Carnegie Hall on Friday [March 8, 1980]. Top price was $9.50. Performing solo and with a quartet called the International Rhythm Band, Mahal was unfortunately more interesting for what he represents than for the actual performance which seemed perponderantly low key.
Mahal provides tangible links between folk-blues, r&b, jazz, calypso, rock and the white blues revival that began over a decade ago and, in this regard, his work can be viewed at times as a fascinating amalgam. His husky voice and tasteful yet rhythmic accompaniments accounted for much of the charm of his playing.
Even so, little of it was really gripping, in spite of the simplicity and directness of the program. Mahal, who recently completed a State Department tour of Africa, has a new release on the Crystal Clear label.
Guitarist Leo Kottke provided a splendid opening set that was interesting because of his great skill at fashioning lively accompaniment patterns, as well as his formidable powers of projection. He is, however, no great melodist, and although his vocals were also quite good, it became difficult to distinguish one tune from another during the 55-minute set. -- Roso
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