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Bhakti Bazaar

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Album Review

On this follow-up to their 2004 album Music for Yoga and Other Joys, West-meets-East musicians Jai Uttal and Ben Leinbach come up with four lengthy suites in which they mix Western pop elements with traditional Indian sounds for a world/new age hybrid. The beats are maintained for most of the 16- to 19-minute tracks, meant to accompany yoga exercises and undefined "other joys," but Uttal and Leinbach employ varying voices and instruments over the rhythms, sometimes melodically chanting variations on the song titles. The long time frames allow space for, say, a guitar solo followed by a keyboard pattern appearing well along in "Rama Bolo." In "Devakindana Gopala," Uttal plays a banjo as if it were an Eastern instrument, plucking it slowly and emphasizing the odd tonalities. Across the nearly 19 minutes of "Ganga Ma," vocal sections give way to a keyboard line that sounds like a harmonica or accordion. The musical variations maintain listening interest as the sounds and the steady beats serve to accompany yoga work in a manner that is both exotic and soothing.


Genre: World

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Jai Uttal has played Motown songs in cover bands and busked for change on the streets. Both of those experiences have stood him in good stead for his musical career, which finds his music straddling the divide between world and new age. Born in New York City in 1952, Uttal grew up in the music business -- his father worked for a record label -- and at the age of seven he began piano lessons. Those were followed by banjo, guitar, and harmonica as Uttal began to discover American roots music, most...
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