Heart & Spirit
Tim Jordan Kirtan
2014 / Tim Jordan Kirtan
Review by Kathy Parsons
Tim Jordan Kirtan’s debut album, Heart & Spirit, was created as an offering that is as close as possible to a live Kirtan event. (For the uninitiated, as I was before hearing this album: “The practice of kirtan, call and response chanting, is a participatory music experience that originated in India about 500 years ago. It is a devotional practice known as Bhakti Yoga. Like other forms of yoga, Bhakti Yoga, is about connection. Connection to divinity, connection to our true selves, connection to others. Kirtan uses the repetition of Sanskrit mantras, mystical vibrations encased in a sound structure, to help us to tap into sacred energies that serve to quiet our mind and open our heart.” Quoted from Tim Jordan Kirtan’s website.)
What I find the most interesting about this album is the range of musical styles used to make the chants and songs more accessible. Classic rock, world music, trance and even a little gospel give the music a very contemporary feeling even though some of the chants go back centuries. The album is a collection of traditional and original chants, some of which are slow and quietly soulful and some that are much more upbeat and joyful. It’s a fascinating concept and I’m impressed with how well it works. Produced by David Vito Gregoli the band includes vocals, harmonium, flute, acoustic and electric guitars, strings, bass, percussion, banjo, mandolin, organ, tabla, drums, piano, and much more - a very full production!
Heart & Spirit begins (and ends) with “Om Hari Om.” The first version is a little more than seven minutes and closing is about 3 1/2, so they are not the same. The first is more of an invocation and the last is a closing prayer. Solemn, but warm and spiritual, it sets the tone of the album. “Ganapati” is a 13-minute chant that starts out slowly and simply and gradually builds with joyful enthusiasm. Infectious rhythms, an unusual assortment of musical instruments, and a driving beat make this one a favorite! “Maheshwari Ma” is a beautiful ballad-style song that is slow and graceful. “Shiva” is the 20-minute centerpiece of the album. Divided into four parts, it blends contemporary arrangements of traditional chants with newer pieces by Michael H. Cohen, David Vito Gregoli, and Ian Gothe. Part 3, “Nataraja,” is a gorgeous trio for flute, classical guitar, and bass that begins slowly and builds to a jazz-tinged and energetic peak before the chanting resumes. “Govinda” returns to a beautiful ballad style, this time with AJ Nowak doing the lead vocals. “Asatoma” is a traditional chant arranged by David Vito Gregoli with a contemporary flair. Ian Gothe’s flute adds a haunting quality to the piece and gives it a jazzy edge.
Heart & Spirit is a unique and very enjoyable musical experience on so many levels. It is available from Amazon, iTunes and CD Baby. Recommended if you are looking for something different and spiritually uplifting!
April 17, 2015