2020 Addison St
Berkeley, CA 94704
$28/In Advance (plus fees), $32/At The Door (plus fees)
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 his most recent album, Roots, Rock, Rama!
Jai Uttal’s musical journey began at an early age. Growing up in Manhattan, the son of record executive Larry Uttal, he was ideally suited to absorb pop music’s ‘50s and ‘60s golden age. Jai learned to play piano, guitar, banjo and harmonica while still quite young. But a first encounter with Indian music at age 17 proved to be a life-changing experience. He would later say that this music “touched my heart like the sounds of home.” Soon he was studying with Indian sarod virtuoso Ali Akbar Khan. His endeavor to master the challenging Indian stringed instrument also led to the discovery of his singing voice.
“The universe is filled with colors and melodies,” he says. “They’re just everywhere, if only we could see and hear them more clearly. I feel that all art exists to enhance devotional practice and devotional expression. So I just try to hear the melodies.”