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Beggars and Saints

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Album Review

Folklore meets science on the computer-manipulated cover of this latest release from Jai Uttal; the music behind the cover reveals more of the modern world meeting folklore and tradition head on, with Uttal putting traditional chants to new music and mixing together western and oriental instruments along with the traditional and the contemporary in instrumentation. The result is a heady, muscular mixture that carves its own niche in as distinctive a way as anything from Bill Laswell's corner. There's a range of vocal and instrumental tones mixed into Beggars and Saints that goes beyond any easy description — think of swaying willows in a light wind and you'll be more on target. While it has its roots in the street music of India, Beggars and Saints is really more about spirit, wood and water.


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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