Music Review: Primordial Swamp Beat Live

reviewed by John Malkin
Primordial Swamp Beat Live

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Primordial Swamp Beat Live is an uplifting 20-minute-long live performance/invocation/kirtan dedicated to Lord Shiva by Jai Uttal and friends. The song was recorded live at Freight & Salvage in Berkeley, California, on November 6, 2021. Uttal told S&H, “There are nights and there are nights!”

“Primordial Swamp Beat” originally appeared on Uttal’s 2017 double album Roots Rock Rama!—one of his 20 world music albums. This live recording marked a return to in-person events for the Grammy-nominated sacred singer. Uttal reflects, “As the world moves slowly and tenderly out of pandemic isolation, I’m rediscovering the preciousness of sharing songs and chants with other human beings, in person. Seeing the tears welling in people’s eyes and hear-ing the emotion in their voices reinspires my own feelings of devotion.”

Uttal plays guitar and sings on Primordial Swamp Beat Live and is joined by a group of long-time collaborators including Ben Leinbach (bass and percussion) and vocalists Prajna Vieira and Sandy Cressman. Uttal’s son Ezra plays key-boards, including a funky organ solo. Uttal added, “That killer organ solo is by him. He’s 17 years old and I’m a proud poppa!”

Uttal is also set to release a new studio album on Valentine’s Day of 2023 titled Dust and Tears. He gave S&H a preview, “The songs are mostly reworkings of Sanskrit and Hindi devotional songs from the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries, as well as a few Old Testament psalms and two completely original songs. Predominately in English!” News about online kirtan camp, retreats, and performances by Jai Uttal can be found at

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