Never ceasing to till the soil in search of roots, Otis Taylor rolls up his sleeves and digs down to the origins of the banjo on his latest effort, Recapturing the Banjo. Not one to recycle popularly accepted notions of a genre or instrument (previous outings include a critically acclaimed re-examination of the blues), Taylor burrows past the more recognized bluegrass variety of banjo playing to unearth the instrument's African origins. The bluesman and his savvy compatriots, who include Keb' Mo', Corey Harris and Alvin Youngblood Hart, have no difficulty turning up the old world with an eclectic collection that includes original gems "Ran So Hard the Sun Went Down" and "Bow-legged Charlie," as well as covers such as the jug-band classic "Walk Right In." By blending a variety of material, like the claw-hammer-styled traditional "Little Liza Jane" and a bluesy banjo interpretation of Hendrix's "Hey Joe," Taylor loans further cred to his reputation as a thinking man's picker. A showcase of his latest effort at the D-Note this Friday, May 9, should provide compelling evidence that the banjo is far more than just a stage prop for minstrels and jesters.
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