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Monday, January 12, 2009

the three kirtaneers

at least that's how shiva rea referred to the three musicians who were assembled on the stage at the exhale center for sacred movement in venice last saturday.

shiva rea and jai uttal were leading a two-day workshop, raise the vibration!, a celebration to call in the new year. i was there on the first day for the thunder love kirtan and yoga trance dance:

Embark on a vocal journey through the sacred sounds of ancient India. Drawing from an unbroken tradition of Indian devotional singing, Jai Uttal will introduce and lead us in the ancient practice of "Kirtan" (or chanting), the heart of devotional yoga. This practice of calling to the divine creates a bridge between the individual and the eternal, opening the heart and welcoming the spirit. Sometimes soft and meditative and sometimes loud and wildly rhythmic, Kirtan takes the participant on a deep emotional and musical journey through our mostly unexplored inner world. With solo performance and call-and-response group chanting, Jai creates a space of invocation, prayer, and heartfelt expression.

thunder love is the title of jai's latest CD, which is scheduled for a march release on the new nutone music label. there was a point in the evening when we trance-danced with shiva to a cut from the new album, but like myself, most of the audience was there to listen to jai sing live. it had been a long time since he last performed in LA, so many were eager for the chance to chant with him. and he was more than happy to oblige.

the usual LA kirtan regulars -- who came from far and wide -- were there that night. it turned out to be a fun social gathering, at least for me, because i kept running into people i knew!

compared to most multi-instrumented kirtans, the evening's call-and-response was a fairly simple affair, with jai playing the dual role of "call" chanter and "response" leader while patrick richey kept rhythm on tabla. during a break between chants, a third musician joined them on stage: dave stringer (who seems to be showing up at everyone else's kirtan these days!). besides taking over the task of guiding us through the response, dave also demonstrated his deft tingsha ringing ability (you've seen them; they're those mini-cymbals connected by a leather strap that yoga teachers ring at the end of savasana).

it was at that point i realized that, with shiva, jai, and dave in the room, i was being treated to a preview of the upcoming chant4change, a powerful kirtan event that, sadly, i won't be able to attend because i won't be in washington DC for obama's inauguration.

but here's some good news -- i just found out that they're working on making a chant4change webcast available; click here to add your name to the webcast news distribution list. i've sent in mine, and i can't wait to see how the event turns out!