Makawao, HI – March 16, 2016 – Grammy nominated spiritual music pioneer Jai Uttal will appear at the historic Makawao Union Church, 1445 Baldwin Avenue, Makawao HI 96768, on Maui for two events in mid-April. On the 14th he’ll perform a concert featuring songs from his recently released 19th album Roots! Rock! Rama! at 7:30pm. Then on the 15th at 4pm he will lead a Bhakti Satsang that will include live music, kirtan, discussions on devotional singing, stories from the spiritual path, and Hindu texts the Ramayana and the Bhagavad Gita, bringing it all together into a deeper understanding of bhakti yoga.
Tickets for the events are $30 cash in advance (per event). Tickets are available now at: Maui Kombucha in the Haiku Marketplace, MacNet in Kahului at the corner of Dairy Road & Hana Hwy, Monsoon India Restaurant in Kihei at the Menehuene Shores Building, Island Spirit Yoga in Lahaina at 840 Wainee St, behind Ace Hardware. Tickets $40 cash (per event) at the door day of event.
For these gigs, Jai will be joined by his friend, Maui Kirtan walla, and longtime accompanist, noted singer, tabla and harmonica player Daniel Paul. Daniel is an India Fulbright Award winning tabla drummer and graduate of the Ali Akbar College of Music who for more than two decades has been on the front lines of the international kirtan chanting movement as a singing tabla drummer to many of today’s top kirtan singers. From his long association accompanying Jai and the exotic global vocalist Gina Salá, Daniel has also toured South America backing the soft prayers of Snatam Kaur and throughout North America contributing to the rocking chants of Dave Stringer and the Guru Ganesha Band.
Clearly named after Bob Marley’s classic track “Roots Rock Reggae,” this project does celebrate the influence that reggae had on Uttal’s interpretation of classic Indian ragas. However, the title also refers to the practice of kirtan as the root of his life, the rock that is his foundation, and his devotion to Rama (God) throughout his work.
Kirtan is a call and response singing style popular with yoga practitioners who are now over 36 million strong in the US! Jai is a favorite performer on the growing yoga festival circuit, playing to thousands each summer at Bhakti Fests and other events. He also leads his own workshops and retreats that deepen yogis practice of the heart based Bhakti yoga method that is chanting the names of god to further enlightenment.
Co-produced with Uttal in 2016 by noted Northern California producer Ben Leinbach, the album is a double CD/extra-long stream with 12 5-12 minute tracks for about 80 minutes of music (typical of Kirtan, but also of that other California music staple – jam music!). CD 1 or the first 6 tracks are “Rama Sun” and are the more reggae influenced tracks (such as H.A.R.I., please listen here) – deeply steeped in earthy rhythms, hypnotic bass lines, jubilant horn charts and soulful vocal harmonies. CD 2, the next 6 tracks are “Rama Moon” and find Uttal in an entirely different mood. Grounded in the gentle, lilting sway of Brazilian samba, it also touches on the pastoral splendor of the more acoustic tracks from the Beatles’ White Album. The Beatles are another major influence, and Jai has brought their pioneering fusion of Indian music and Western pop into the 21st century.
With a unique boomer upbringing in the NYC music biz of the 50s and 60s (as a child he was at the session where Mitch Ryder recorded “Devil With a Blue Dress”!) Uttal understands true musicianship and has worked with top musicians including Bill Laswell, Don Cherry, and his musical guru Ustad Ali Akbar Khan throughout his career.
Additionally, his story flows with that of his generation – in the 70s he studied with Khan in the Bay Area while making extended trips to the Indian Ashram of Neem Karoli Baba the same guru who influenced Ram Dass’ classic Be Here Now. Maharajji, as the guru is known to his students, encouraged the practice of bhakti (devotional) yoga as expressed through kirtan, the call-and-response chanting of sacred names, over and over again until they become deeply instilled in the consciousness, providing an experience of profound peace and spiritual insight. Kirtan would become the center of Jai’s musical and spiritual life.
The 80s were dedicated to his music career which took off in 1990 with his first album Footprints that featured Don Cherry and other notables, launching him into the exploding world music scene. Now, eighteen albums, marriage, fatherhood, a Grammy nomination, and 26 years of worldwide acclaim later Roots! Rock! Rama! continues his legacy.