Soul of the Esraj is a musical canvas for the practices of healing arts, hatha yoga and meditation. While the album has its roots in the classical music of North India, many elements of New Age and contemporary ambient musical styles have been included to build a multifaceted soundscape for each listener's spiritual journey. It is Benjy's hope and prayer that Soul of the Esraj will prove to be a steady and soulful companion to each listener on their path through this precious gift of life.
The pieces on the CD feature the esraj (an instrument from North India that resembles a small sitar but is played with a bow) accompanied by instruments from around the world, including bass flute, Celtic harp, viola da gamba, voice, and guitar. Indian classical ragas (ancient melodic forms) are associated with a particular time of day, and the selections on Soul of the Esraj flow through a sequence based on the ragas from which they are derived.
"The heart opens its doors to receive the Beloved in the form of the 'Soul of the Esraj.' Words fall at the feet of this music as we enter into the beauty that lifts us into ourselves. We find a home here, a place to rest and a haven from the storms on the ocean of this world. This is not just music, it is prayer."
"When I listen to Benjy play the esraj it transports me beyond the Beyond. 'Soul of the Esraj' is a must-have CD for all yoga practitioners."
-John Friend, founder of Anusara Yoga
About Benjy Wertheimer
A founding member of the internationally acclaimed Ancient Future world fusion music ensemble, Benjy has studied Indian classical music for over 20 years with some of the greatest masters of that tradition (including Alla Rakha, Zakir Hussain, Ali Akbar Khan and Z. M. Dagar). An award-winning songwriter, composer, vocalist, and multi-instrumentalist (playing tabla, congas, percussion, esraj, guitar, and keyboards), Benjy has toured the US, Canada, and Japan with renowned bamboo flute master G.S. Sachdev and has opened for such artists as Carlos Santana, Paul Winter, and Narada Michael Walden.
For over five years, Benjy scored music for the internationally syndicated NBC series "Santa Barbara." He has recorded with numerous artists on such labels as A&M, Windham Hill, Narada, Nippon Phonogram, Triloka, Rounder and Global Pacific, and worked with such internationally renowned producers as Rick Rubin (the producer for the Beastie Boys, Tom Petty, Johnny Cash, and many others). For several years, Benjy was a contributing composer/member of the Zakir Hussain Rhythm Experience (along with Mickey Hart of the Grateful Dead).
Benjy is very grateful to David Michael, Randy Mead, Matthew Montfort, Tim Ellis, and Heather Klinger Wertheimer - Soul of the Esraj could not have come into being without their unique and wonderful musical gifts.