Henry Saint Clair Fredericks, better known by his stage name, Taj Mahal, is less a traditional blues artist and more a cross-cultural musicologist who just happens to play some damn fine blues guitar. Over the course of four decades, Mahal has perfected his unique melding of blues, reggae, Cajun, gospel, African and Caribbean musical traditions. After starting his career with Ry Cooder in the shamefully neglected Rising Sons, Taj Mahal has released a significant body of work that, while not on the same level as more celebrated players (say Hendrix or Vaughan), has quietly worked its way into the varied fabric of American music. Mahal's most renowned efforts came in the late '60s with Natch'l Blues and the classic Giant Step, yet he continues to make music of a distinctive character and flavor. At 64, Mahal's spirit continues to roam, unencumbered by limiting ideas like borders, languages or musical classifications.