Kirtan is an ancient form of call and response chanting, which typically involves repetition of Sanskrit mantras. The idea is that by repeatedly chanting the name of God we reveal our true nature, bringing us closer to God. It is said that when we chant kirtan we should open our hearts so much that we sound “like a child crying out for its mother”.
I’ve been a musician all my life – drummer, keyboard player, composer, producer. I have had the good fortune to perform all over the world with many great musicians in a wide variety of styles – jazz, rock, pop, classical, and several forms of world music. However, it was only after getting serious about yoga that I was exposed to kirtan. While on a visit to the serene Sivananda Ashram in the Laurentian mountains I was invited to chant in the temple. Afterwards the Swami took me aside and said there was something special in my voice and that I should follow this path. Well, after a lot of hard work, and with the support of many very talented friends, the path has led to this moment.
Because my yoga training is in the Sivananda tradition, it’s no surprise that my first kirtan album is of Sivananda chants. I love to sing along with kirtan recordings, but I find that the sound of the chorus in the responses is distracting to how I like to sing along. So I decided to record my kirtan chants with no chorus, leaving an open space for you to sing along in your own voice and “be” the chorus. For those of you who remember the old Music Minus One series, think of this as Kirtan Minus One. In place of the usual chorus responses, instruments play an outline of the melody. For some chants we felt one lone instrument was enough, while on others we used a “chorus” of instruments. Still, we couldn’t resist adding vocal responses to those chants that felt best with the traditional approach. This will give kirtan newcomers a sense of what a live kirtan sounds like, and an idea of how to sing in the spaces on the other tracks … like a child crying out for its mother. So please, sing in the spaces. Sing outside the spaces. Just sing!
"Jim has a voice filled with depth, love, and emotion--the perfect bhakti singer."
~ DEBI WINSTON BUZIL
Yoga Chicago Magazine
"Jim's music has such a wonderful and rich feel. He transmits a pure bhav in all of these songs. I find myself singing along so easily with his gentle yet emotionally powerful melodies and arrangements. One of the best releases the year!"
~ BLAKE TEDDER
Full Lotus Kirtan Show, WCOM FM -- North Carolina, USA
"Great CD. Highly recommended! Om Bhagavan is one of the best songs I've heard this year."
~ GARY GOLDBERG
In The Spirit, WRPI FM -- New York, USA
Thank You: My family for their amazing love and support: Lori, Jacob, Kai, Esther, Alon. The Sivananda community for the inspiration: Swami Sivananda, Swami Vishnudevananda, Swami Swaroopananda, Swami Ambikananda, Swami Brahmananda, Prahlada, Rukmini, Padmavati, Manjunath, and all the beautiful staff in Val Morin, Paradise Island, and Toronto. The production team: First and foremost to Polibop for believing in me, Brennie, James Rohr, the stellar guest musicians: Ashtar Ron Allen, Ian de Souza, Chris Gartner, George Koller, Ernie Tollar, Ken Whiteley, and the fabulous Bhakti Babe chorus: Maie Paluka, Pat Sandford, Kundra Fotheringham, Lana Sugarman, Vivian Palin, Pamela Janz, Dale Stafford, Erin Wiser, and Brenda Hoffert. Desmond Ong for the great photos. Paul Ruta for removing the double spaces after periods. And last but definitely not least, huge thanks to Shawn Barry for his exquisite cover art.