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Kai Eckhardt

Kai Eckhardt began to play bass guitar in 1976 at age 15. His first major undertaking came in 1985 when European guitar prodigy Torsten de Winkel asked him to join his recording ensemble with Michael Brecker and Alphonse Mouzon, making quite a splash in the European scene, and later his touring band with Ernie Watts and Steve Smith, leading to an invitation to Eckhardt and Torsten to join Smith’s US-based group Vital Information. The two German musicians also appeared together in a TV production with Randy Brecker and Simon Phillips in Swiss National Television.
Meanwhile, he had accepted a scholarship to the Berklee College of Music and began to establish himself in the US, working with the likes of Aydin Esen, Stanley Clarke, Tiger Okoshi and Bob Moses. In 1988 Kai joined the John Mclaughlin Trio with percussionist Trilok Gurtu and John McLaughlin. The trio toured extensively in the years to come and recorded a number of albums, including Que Alegria in 1992. Afterwards, Eckhardt moved to the San Francisco bay area and turned his attention to composing, while performing with the Billy Cobham International Quartet and with Garaj Mahal. As a session musician he recorded an performed with Jazz legends Dewey Redman, Donald Byrd and Bob Moses.
In 2000, he released his first CD as a leader, entitled “Honour Simplicity, Respect the Flow” and featuring Aydın Esen, Courtney Pine, Zakir Hussain and others. He is also working with his own new group the Kai Eckhardt Reslilience (which released an album entitled Zeitgeist in 2014). Eckhardt also runs a mentor-ship program for young musicians.  Today Kai is the co-leader and co-producer of the influential jam band Garaj Mahal. The band played over 1000 shows in the US and Canada between 2000 and 2019. Garaj Mahal released 9 albums during those years and won the independent music awards in the Jam Band category in 2007. Most recent collaborations include live performances with R&B saxophonist Ronnie Laws and guitarist Stanley Jordan.  Kai lives in Berkeley, California with his wife and two children and works as an associate professor for the University of California, Berkeley as well as the California Jazz Conservatory.