*** THIS CD IS ONE OF CD BABY'S TOP SELLERS! ***
"A volcano of a voice! Stringer transported us to another time and place."- LA Yoga Pages
"Stringer's voice is rich and expressive... a divine mindtrip you won't want to miss." - Mas-India.com
Profiled in Time and Billboard magazines as a leader of the new American kirtan movement, Stringer fuses the East Indian form of rhythmic call-and-response mantra chanting known as kirtan - a practice that has become popular as a live music happening in hundreds of yoga studios across the USA - with the exuberant, groove-oriented sound of American gospel music. As Stringer describes, participating in a kirtan "You're not just listening to the music, you are the music."
Recorded in a series of live-in-the-studio sessions, Japa is infused with barefoot grooves, swirling incense and improvisational epiphanies. Produced by noted yoga teacher Saul David Raye, the CD also features the amazing voices of Toni Childs, Donna de Lory, Danny Peck, Suzanne Sterling and C.C. White, along with yoga teachers Seane Corn, Samantha Mehra, and Steve Ross. The backing band, which includes Girish Gambhira on tablas, James Harrah on electric guitar, Ian Walker on bass, and Jay Bellerose on drum set, along with special guests on sitar, saxophone, string quartet and trumpet, swings seamlessly from the soulful communion of Saturday night to the joyous redemption of Sunday morning.
Although frequently played as an accompaniment to vigorous yoga practice, Japa was actually made for driving and singing along to. The staff at City Yoga in West Hollywood, CA have called it "the perfect cure for road rage". And Dave and his band know plenty about the road: they tour tirelessly, playing about 100 dates a year across the United States, Canada and Europe.
Kirtan is a folk form that arose from the devotional Bhakti yoga movement of 15th century India. The primary musical feature of kirtan is the use of call and response, a figure that also deeply informs Western bluegrass, gospel music and jazz. The form is simple: a lead group calls out the melodies and the mantras. The crowd responds, clapping and dancing as the rhythms build and accelerate.
The Bhaktis had no use for orthodoxy. They wrote ecstatic love poems, and went around singing all the time. They saw the expression and form of the divine in every direction they looked. Their message was simple: Cultivate joy. See the divine in one another. They taught Sanskrit mantras to common people using simple melodies, accompanied by handclaps and finger cymbals and drums.
The intention of Kirtan is consciousness-transformative, directing the singers to vanish into the song as drops merge into the ocean. Sanskrit is the mother tongue of many modern languages, and a kind of periodic table of elemental sound-meaning. The mantras are primarily recitations of names given to the divine. But perhaps the true understanding of the mantras can be found in the sense of unity, well-being and timelessness that they elicit. The mantras quiet the mind, and the music frees the heart. Ecstasy is both the process and the product.
About Dave Stringer:
Initially trained as a visual artist and jazz musician, Dave started chanting in the early 1990?s when a film editing project brought him to the ashram of Swami Muktananda in India. When the editing project ended, he remained in India to teach school in a rural village, and continued studying the traditions of yoga with Swami Chidvilasananda. After returning to the US, Dave taught meditation and chanting to prison inmates, and began leading kirtans at yoga studios in Los Angeles and Chicago.
In the past four years Dave and his band have toured all over the United States, Canada and Europe, giving more than 400 performances. He has collaborated on recordings with Vas, Rasa, Donna De Lory, Axiom of Choice, Suzanne Teng, and Sheila Nicholls, and has performed with other noted kirtan singers Krishna Das and Jai Uttal. His voice can also be heard on the soundtracks of the film Matrix Revolutions and the video game Myst.