Skip to main content

Uttal, Jai

Uttal, Jai

Uttal, Jai, American singer and musician; b. N.Y. He studied classical piano as a child before also learning to play banjo, harmonica, and electric guitar. His diverse musical abilities were reflected in his learning a wide range of styles and absorbing everything from Jimi Hendrix to John Coltrane to modern classical music. By age 19, he became entranced by the music of world famous Indian musician Ali Akbar Khan and was compelled to move to Calif, to study voice and the 25-string sarod under Khan’s guidance. He was later able to apply his Indian classical training to the other forms of music he played during the 1970s and 1980s, including reggae, punk, Motown, and blues. During the 1970s, he made many pilgrimages to India while also studying music in Calif, under various tutors. One of those Indian treks was incredibly influential—he lived and played amongst Bengalese street musicians named the Bauls, communicating with them entirely through music, and the lessons learned there would permanently alter his musical course. Uttal has been categorized both as a world and jazz musician, but his music blends those elements with pop and fusion to form a signature sound that is full of warmth and romanticism. The musician originally began his recording career with his 1990 debut Footprints,an album that found him taking his inspirational journeys to India (particularly his time spent with the Bauls) and applying it to his Western heritage.

As his work has progressed, he has moved away from works that center more on him and work in a group setting (including occasional songwriting collaborations), one which includes guitar, trombone, violin, bass, and percussion. The electronic influences of his debut soon were stripped away and replaced by more pop-based sounds, which later lead to fusion and even a few reggae influences. His main instrument is the dotar, which sonically resembles a sitar but possesses a crisper sound with less twang. It dominates his first two albums, but as his music has matured, he has let the sounds of the Pagan Love Orch. become stronger and more independent. No matter what album you listen to, though, the sound of Uttal and his orchestra is very distinct. He has also performed on albums by the Hieroglyphics Ensemble, Tulku, the Peter Apfelbaum Sextet, and Gabrielle Roth & the Mirrors, and has produced two albums for Ali Akbar Khan.


Footprints (1990); Monkey (1992); Beggars and Saints (1995); Shiva Station (1997); Spirit Room: A Retrospective (2000).

—Bryan Reesman

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Uttal, Jai." Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of Musicians. . 22 Jan. 2019 <>.

"Uttal, Jai." Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of Musicians. . (January 22, 2019).

"Uttal, Jai." Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of Musicians. . Retrieved January 22, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.