Fridays Live: Taj Mahal: Savoy Ballroom Tribute
Fridays Live • SFJAZZ At Home

Taj Mahal: Savoy Ballroom Tribute

Originally Filmed on AUG 4, 2023

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FRIDAYS LIVE: Taj Mahal: Savoy Ballroom Tribute

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Fridays Live Premiere


7:30 PM PT (10:30 PM ET)

Saturday Encore


11 AM PT (2 PM ET)

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Taj Mahal

Two-time GRAMMY-winning blues icon Taj Mahal is the closest thing we have to an American griot. His music embraces the raw energy of field hollers, the rent-party gumption of early jazz, the urbane grooves of rhythm and blues, the church-derived cadences of soul music and the rhythms of West Africa, via New Orleans and the Caribbean.

His Summer Sessions concerts saw the world premiere performances of material from his forthcoming album Savoy — a jazz-inflected tribute to the music of his childhood and the legendary Harlem ballroom of the 30s,40s, and 50s, featuring his singular interpretations of Great American Songbook classics including “Stompin’ at the Savoy,” “Summertime,” and “Gee Baby, Ain’t I Good To You.” The project has special meaning for Mahal — his parents met at the Savoy during an Ella Fitzgerald concert and the music of that era was the soundtrack of his early life. In his words, “I heard (the songs on Savoy) as a kid when all of those people who made those musics were alive and speaking to us through the records.”

Since his first release 50 years ago with the Rising Sons, which he founded with Ry Cooder, Taj has been a cultural force, bringing blues culture to new generations. Equal parts preservationist and visionary, Taj Mahal wields his expressive growl of a voice to conjure an era when social gatherings without live music were simply unthinkable.

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