Roots! Rock! Rama!

Posted on in Art + Soul by Lloyd Barde

Cover Roots! Rock! Rama!

Jai Uttal

This spectacular double CD is a journey through the splendors, riches, and tribulations of the Indian subcontinent, musically, spiritually, and globally. Jai Uttal has reigned over the NorCal kirtan/chant scene for three decades—a rollicking, beneficent parade of high energy and sacred spirit through 19 albums and countless live shows. Jai has infused his world vision with an amalgam of reggae, blues, Indian, and Beatles-inspired pop music. All have come together on his Roots! Rock! Rama! Clearly named after Bob Marley’s classic track “Roots Rock Reggae,” it shows the influence reggae has on Jai’s interpretation of classic Indian ragas.

The album merges kirtan with that other California music staple—jam music. Jai was joined by Leinbach, Prajna Vieira, Tina Malia, Jose Neto, Visvambhar Sheth, and others. CD 1 is “Rama Sun” and has the more reggae-influenced tracks (such as “H.E.L.P.” climaxing into The Beatles’ “Help”), steeped in earthy rhythms, jubilant horn charts, and soulful vocal harmonies. CD 2 is “Rama Moon” and finds Jai in a different mood. Grounded in the lilting sway of Brazilian samba, it also touches on the pastoral splendor of the more acoustic tracks from the Beatles’ White Album. Jai has brought The Beatles’ pioneering fusion of Indian music and Western pop into the 21st century.

Jai’s story flows with that of his generation—in the seventies he studied with his musical guru Ustad Ali Akbar Khan in the Bay Area while making extended trips to the Indian ashram of Neem Karoli Baba, the same guru who influenced Ram Dass’s classic Be Here Now. Jai’s Bay Area album release concert for Roots! Rock! Rama! is March 18 at Spirit Rock Meditation Center in West Marin. Celebration, meditation, dance of the devas, and love song to the universe—this event will be all that and more.


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