There are many great teachers and musicians who have come on the IAH podcast but I have to say that the magic, wisdom and love that Jai Uttal brought to the kitchen table was like nothing else. Jai effortlessly weaves together stories, knowledge and devotion into one voice like few others can do. We talked about his early days studying with Ali Akbar Khan, the landscape of spirituality and the 1960s, his passion for Indian classical music and kirtan and of course Neem Karoli Baba. Hearing Jai tell these stories had me forgetting that I was supposed to be on the other side of the table guiding the conversation. It was as if I was I was floating down the Ganga yearning for more of the unique musical magic that Jai creates. His new album “Roots, Rock, Rama!” is out now.
Jai Uttal has been rightly hailed as a world music pioneer. Singer, multi-instrumentalist and producer, he was among the first to hear the universal heartbeat in the variegated rhythms of the globe. But his powerful, plangent voice and panoramic musical vision have also long been at the core of the yoga community’s tradition of call-and response devotional chanting known as kirtan. While his music is deeply rooted in Indian classical tradition—he studied long and hard under the Indian sarod master Ali Akbar Khan—it is also plentifully imbued with echoes of reggae, rock, folk, Brazilian music, Bollywood and other sounds from across the musical universe. All of these diverse and colorful strands are woven together beautifully on Roots, Rock, Rama!