CD Review: Bhagavan Das - 'Sunset Kirtan, Vols. I, II, & III'

By Ramananda Das (Richard Brookens) - Enlightened Practice Magazine Column, March/April '05

This is devotional chanting at its most primal, immediately accessible level of energy. Bhagavan Das is in rare form here. He always puts out an amazing amount of energy in the live Kirtans I've heard, but he seems especially inspired throughout this live recording. He speaks eloquently and passionately between chants, addressing subjects of life and death in a spiritual context, referring to Hanuman and the Holy Mother, and bringing us to a place in our hearts where we experience true beauty, peace, and our connection to each other-a place filled with love and acceptance.

In Volume I, he sings Gam Ganapataye and segues into Durga Jai Jai Ma. Then, after explanations and instructions, he begins the Hanuman Chalisa (the attending crowd sings Ram in the background as Bhagavan and company sing the 140-word chant). He finishes with Sita Ram. Volume II has Jai Jai Kali Ma, which begins with Bhagavan Das quietly singing solo to the divine Mother, eventually bringing the crowd in on call and response with Devaki Nandana Gopala and raising the energy with Radhe Govinda. The next track begins with Gopi Gopala, moves on seamlessly to Shyam Rahde Shyam, and closes with Hare Krishna. Volume III starts with Rama Bolo and then progresses to Shiva Shambo, which starts with strong drumming and an invocation to Shiva by Bhagavan and then moves right into call and response chanting. Altogether, this 3 CD set totals roughly 2 hours and 15 minutes of an ecstatic evening with one of the great masters of the art of Kirtan.

Beautifully accompanied by Mirabai and Uma Nanda Saraswati on Vocals and Karatalas, and Ray Spiegel on Tabla Drums, the live recording is well balanced and beautifully produced. The people attending the Kirtan also sing beautifully, sometimes sounding like a celestial choir. The beauty of the sunset and of this Kirtan evening was truly captured on this recording.

This Kirtan was recorded live at the Puck Building in New York City on the evening of August 8, 2003. This Kirtan was performed as a benefit for the Rita Project, which fights teen suicide through arts education. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this CD will also go to this worthy cause.

Bhagavan Das (www.bhagavandas.com) will be holding Kirtans at the Yoga Warehouse (www.yogawarehouse.org) in Fort Lauderdale, Thursday, March 24th, at 7 p.m., and on the evening of Saturday, March 26th, as part of Karmapalooza (www.karmapalooza.com), a benefit for The Nature Conservancy (www.nature.org) at the Trump International Sonesta Beach Resort Hotel in North Miami.

Ramananda Das (Richard Brookens) is certified in Sivananda and Kundalini Yoga. He currently teaches Yoga at Barry University in Miami Shores, Spa Atlantis in Pompano, and Yoga Connection in Plantation. He also plays woodwinds (saxophones, flutes, and clarinets) and hand percussion (tablas, clay pot, et al), and regularly performs professionally in the local area. He has also performed throughout the United States, the Carribbean, and in Panang, Malaysia, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, and Europe. He has released two CDs of original World Fusion Music, and three meditation/relaxation CDs on his Yellow Bell label. Contact him, listen to free samples from his CDs, and view pictures of some of his performances and World instruments at www.yellowbellmusic.com.

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