"Defiantly not your traditional kirtan album!"
"Not being a practitioner of yoga, I wasn't prepared for the impact this compelling CD would have on me. The eight rather indescribable songs on Mala take on a life of their own with melodies so beautiful you may want to cry. Mala is easily one of the most ear-opening records I've heard this year.”
"Stringer's most ambitious and best work to date. "Mala" is an important addition to anyone's collection of kirtan albums."
--- LA Yoga Pages
Mala is a call and response kirtan CD with jazz, gypsy and country influences all evident. Dave Stringer’s ingenious and unorthodox arrangements are sweeping and cinematic in scope, integrating the Indian instruments of the traditional Hindustani kirtan style with exquisite vocal harmonies and accents of lap steel, banjo, trumpet and violin.
With songs like the quietly driving 'Bhagavati' and the bouncy 'Govinda Jaya Jaya', Mala contains music that can be used both as an accompaniment to yoga and as music to listen to simply for the pleasure of it. Kirtan is a participatory form of music, so singing along with the CD can be a particularly rewarding experience (the Sanskrit lyrics are helpfully provided in the packaging).
Produced by Saul David Raye. Special guests include Sheila Nicholls, C.C. White, Joni Allen, Shanti Shivani, Suzanne Sterling, Allie Stringer, Steve Ross and Girish.
"India blasted me into billions of spinning particles and then slowly
reshaped me, a process that was somehow both excruciating and ecstatic. I can’t begin to claim complete knowledge of all of the layers of philosophy represented by the mantras I learned to chant while I was there, but I can attest to their power. I’m not a Sanskrit scholar and not always a particularly focused devotee, but I am deeply committed to the process of inquiry that the practice of yoga suggests.
I once read that Thomas Jefferson took a copy of the Bible and cut out the parts that most resonated with him, then reassembled his selections into a work that reflected his own way of saying his prayers. I suppose it is fair to say that as an artist, I am engaged in something of a similar process with yoga. I don’t know exactly where the journey I am making ends. I’m just trying to report honestly from where I am.
Kirtan is rooted in a very old and profoundly joyful Eastern tradition. But I don’t know that it is possible for me to be traditional. As a Westerner, I can’t help but bring my own cultural biases with me. My intention, however, is to be authentic, in the sense that what I am doing originates in my heart. For me, to align the individual-dissolving Eastern tradition of kirtan with the individual-affirming Western traditions of gospel and jazz and rock music is no contradiction. Both arise from the same impulse toward expressing what is ecstatic and liberating and transcendent.
Mantras are intended as a tool with which the spirit can release
itself from the prison of attachments that the mind creates. It’s not unfair to say that the chanting of mantras is intended to be a completely mindless activity. Yoga doesn’t ask us to believe, it asks us to practice, examining our experience until we can witness the truth in the book of our own heart. My only suggestion is that you chant along. Whether these mantras are ancient wisdom or psychological metaphor or complete nonsense is up to you."
released September 21, 2004
Allie Stringer: Featured Vocals (5/6) / C.C. White: Featured Vocals (6), Vocals (1,3,7) / Caleb Brennan: Choir (3) / Cameron Stone: Cello / Candy Girard: Violin (3,4,8) / Carri Abrahms: Featured Vocals (4), Accordian (6) / Danny Peck: Vocals (3,4,7) / Dave Stringer: Lead Vocals, Acoustic Guitar (1,4,7), Harmonium, Accordian (1), Mandolin, Melodica, Tamboura (1, 5/6, 7, 8), Swaramandala / Domonic Dean Breaux: Flute, Soprano Saxophone / Donna De Lory: Vocals (3,4,7) / Girish Gambhira: Tablas, Dulcimer, Mridangam, Marimba, Manjira (3, 6), Shaker, Tamboura (3) / Greg Wendt: Choir (3) / Haribol Siddhadas: Manjira (1), Choir (3) / Ian Walker: Electric Bass, Acoustic Bass (7) / Jaik Grace: Featured Vocals (2), Vocals (1), Choir (3) / James Harrah: Electric Guitar, Lap Steel (6) / Jay Bellerose: Drum Set, Shaker, Djembe / Jay Gibson: Trumpet / Joni Allen: Featured Vocals (7), Vocals (1,3,6) / Laria Saunders: Choir (3) / Lili Haydn: Violin (4) / Liz Burnette: Featured Vocals (3), Vocals (4,6) / Mark Smith: Featured Vocals (4), Vocals (1,3,7) / Marty Alan: Sitar (2) / Nirlepa Howard: Choir (3) / Patricia Sill: Choir (3) / Sean O’Byrne: Choir (3) / Scott Mills: Banjo, Tenor Saxophone, Vocals (7) / Scott Schenke: Lap Steel (1,8) / Shakti Gray: Choir (3) / Shanti Shivani: Featured Vocals (3) / Sheila Nicholls: Featured Vocals (1), Vocals (3, 4,7), Piano / Steve Ross: Acoustic Guitar (6), Vocals (6) / Sudama Mark Kennedy: Sitar (3), Choir (3) / Suzanne Sterling: Featured Vocals (2), Vocals (7)
Hargobind Khalsa, Karan Khalsa, Amrita Kaur, Fabienne & Jeremy Toback, Jesse Lombardi, Lynn Grossman, Paul Gordon, Travis Baird
Recorded by Saul David Raye
Mixed by John Potoker at Saturn Sound
Mastered by Michael Lazer
Universal Prayer Produced and Recorded
by Travis Huff
Pro Tools Engineer: Travis Huff
Additional Production: Ian Walker
Graphic Design: Lance Glover / Treehouse
Mala, and its sister, Japa, were recorded over the same
period of time with the same extended family of musicians,
in my labyrinthine old Spanish house in the Hollywood Hills.
Our intention was to preserve as much of the energy of a live
performance as we could, editing the arrangements into something clear and accessible to people previously unacquainted with kirtan.
Many different musicians contributed to this ongoing workshop through live performances in cities spanning America, Canada and Europe. The contributions of Adam Sherman, Allen Astin, Anant Jesse, Debi Buzil, Doug Brush, Jacqueline Westhead, Jeffrey Lidke, Kenny Dread, Kevin Kraus, Mark Gorman and Steve Emmerman all merit specific acknowledgement. It was impractical to include everyone in the production of these tracks, but their love, energy and imagination have influenced and shaped the music in incalculable ways, for which I am extremely thankful.
I extend my heartfelt gratitude to Saul Raye for the steady wisdom and patient friendship that saw this project through, and to Ma Jaya Satabhagavati for encouraging me to make singing mantras my vocation. With great respect and love this music is offered at the feet of Swamis Muktananda and Chidvilasananda. Their grace brought me to India, and their bliss taught me to sing.
All songs written by Dave Stringer ©2000- 2003 Magnetic Melodies BMI except: Saraswati Ma: written by Dave Stringer and Steve Ross ©2003 Magnetic Melodies BMI / Maha Music ASCAP; Gaja Nana: Traditional - Arrangement Dave Stringer ©2003 Magnetic Melodies BMI; Universal Prayer: Traditional - Arrangement Dave Stringer ©2003 Magnetic Melodies BMI
Additional information, tour schedules and contact
information are posted online at www.davestringer.com