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Down to roots

Across the span of nearly five decades, Taj Mahal -- born Henry Saint Clair Fredericks in 1942 -- has been mining the rich tradition of American roots music in an all but peerless fashion.

From his seminal late-1960s work with the Rising Sons -- a band that also included the soon-to-be-legendary guitarist Ry Cooder -- through his consistent refinement of both acoustic and electric blues and folk musics from the 1970s through his work today, which finds him acting as elder statesmen of American roots music, Taj Mahal has been unerring in his commitment to the primal soul of his chosen form.

Recent forays into African, Latin American and Caribbean sounds have expanded the man's musical palette, certainly, but at the heart of everything Taj Mahal does is a deeply American strain of blues music. He is one of the greatest living proponents of the idiom.

The Taj Mahal Trio, with guests Fredericks Brown, will take over the stage of the Tralf Music Hall (622 Main St.) at 8 tonight. Tickets are $38 (box office, Ticketmaster.com).

-- Jeff Miers

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