The Making Of Savoy - Taj Mahal & Savoy Album Producer John Simon, Hosted by Jesse “Chuy” Varela
Available for broadcast with underwriting from Stony Plain Records
Taj Mahal can rightfully be called a living legend for his contributions to popular music. With a voice as instantly recognizable as Louis Armstrong, Ray Charles, or Johnny Cash, throughout his career Taj has pushed the envelope of American roots music forward by incorporating sounds from the Caribbean, Africa, traditional blues and jazz. He has won four Grammy Awards from 15 nominations, was inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame, and presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Americana Music Association.
With his new album Savoy set for release on April 28, 2023, Taj takes a new direction in his musical journey, exploring a collection of blues tinged jazz standards with his good friend and acclaimed record producer John Simon, whose resume includes producing classic albums by The Band, Leonard Cohen, Gordon Lightfoot and Blood Sweat & Tears.
The Making Of Savoy - a one hour radio presentation, is a lively discussion about the recording of the album with the celebrated artist and producer, hosted by Jazz Journalist Associations’ 2023 Hero and KCSM Music Director Jesse “Chuy” Varela, recorded on April 2nd in front of a live audience at the famous Freight & Salvage venue in Taj Mahal’s home town of Berkeley, California. They talk about the inspiration, the recording process, and the Savoy Ballroom in Harlem, where during its existence was one of the first public performance venues in the US without racial segregation.
The Making of Savoy is an intimate conversation with two giants of American music discussing with humor and heartfelt commentary an album dear to Taj Mahal, who honors his roots in Harlem by singing songs he heard around his home in Harlem while in “single digits.” At 80 years of age, Taj has been reflecting on his trajectory as a blues revivalist as exemplified by his Grammy Award album with Ry Cooder, “Get On Board.” On “Savoy” Taj takes the great American songbook and interprets it with swinging flair and grit.
As a producer and pianist, John Simon, adds details about how he came up with the cast of musicians from the San Francisco Bay Area where the album was recorded and the approach to the arrangements and textures. As a staff producer at Columbia Records in the 1960s, Simon’s production credits are unparalleled, but at the crux of his musical being he is a pianist and tasteful arranger.
Six songs from the Savoy album are played in their entirety within the program, interspersed with a lively discussion about The Making of Savoy.
1. STOMPIN’ AT THE SAVOY – 3:43
2. IS YOU IS OR IS YOU AIN’T MY BABY – 4:36
3. SWEET GEORGIA BROWN – 3:18
4. GEE, BABY, AIN’T I GOOD TO YOU – 3:51
5. LADY BE GOOD – 3:52
6. ONE FOR MY BABY – 8:08
Certain radio stations programming the radio special will be supported with underwriting support from Stony Plain Records. For further information on underwriting contact the Stony Plain Records representative below.
Guests - Taj Mahal & John Simon
Hosted by KCSM Radio Music Director/Co-Program Director Jesse “Chuy” Varela
Produced by KCSM Co-Program Director Chris Cortez
Venue - Freight & Salvage, Berkeley CA
Thanks to - Jill Gorman, Andrea Hirsig, Bob Whitfield, Eric Fermin
Savoy will be released on compact disc, vinyl, and digital formats on April 28, 2023. Compact Discs are available from Stony Plain Records at wholesale pricing for use as gifts for radio station funding & pledge drives. Order your copy here: https://stonyplainrecords.com/tajmahal/