Album: Otis Taylor, Recapturing the Banjo (Telarc)

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The Independent Culture

The banjo goes back to Africa. Its journey to its current eminence as THE sonic emblem of white Americana is a long and convoluted one. This admirable album gives an interesting account of how it made that journey.

Taylor is one of our more left-field contemporary bluesmen, so we shouldn't be surprised to find him leading a whole posse of banjos: Keb' Mo', Alvin Youngblood Hart, Corey Harris, Guy Davis and Don Vappie. Together with supporting voices – bass, cornet, harmonica and the occasional drum – they make an austere inventory of most of the places the banjo has been, and some it hasn't.

Pick of the Album: 'Live Your Life': idiomatic banjo blues