CD: Peace Is Now
Artist: Bodhi

Peace Is NowIf there was ever a timely moment for an album like Peace Is Now, this is one of them, with armed conflict erupting from Iraq, to Ukraine, to Israel, and other places around the globe. Not to mention all the inner unrest that so many people experience. Although a single CD may not end the world’s strife, the adage: “Think globally, act locally” certainly is appropriate. This also brings to mind the devotional song lyrics: “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.” And perhaps, if enough people focus on creating peace where they are, there can be a “hundredth monkey” effect, and the scales can be tipped in favor of unity rather than division.


Thinking along these lines is a long time peace advocate and musician from the San Francisco Bay area by the name of Bodhi. Actually more than a musician, he is a songwriter, composer, recording artist, producer, teacher & professional band leader, who studied at Berklee College of Music & with many fine musicians, including the late new age flute icon Paul Horn. The founder of recording/touring ensembles, Crystal Wind and Rhythm Matrix, Bodhi has recorded 14 Trans Ukrainealbums of original music.  His flute CD, Trans Ukraine was the #1 Ambient Album of the year for 2006. Although Bodhi is best known for his exquisite flute work, he is equally at home on guitar, keyboards, and vocals. He has been performing and providing music for special events, weddings, workshops and church services for over 30 years and is currently the music director for the “Golden Gate Center for Spiritual Living” in Northern California. Drawing on his holistic background in Reiki, Breathwork, Aikido, Qi Gong, and meditation, Bodhi specializes in providing musical soundscapes for events and workshops.


The concept of Peace Is Now is one of the most unique and interesting that I’ve encountered in a while. Over the course of the album’s 12 tracks, the melody and chant of “peace is now” becomes a choral mantra that is channeled through a wide variety of musical styles such as folk, jazz, rock, reggae, gospel, and more. The album includes the artistic talents of 35 musicians from various genres with one message: creating a world of peace.


Speaking about the genesis of this project, Bodhi shares: “Peace is now. A phrase so simple, that opened in my soul and reverberated through my being. I imagined hearing the words in languages from around the world. There are over 300 countries on the planet with thousands of languages. I knew I could not include them all. I recorded those languages that came to me in the flow of making the CD. Peace exists in the consciousness of all beings in whatever language they speak. I feel so honored to have all these amazing musicians gracing this project, each with their own unique style and expression. It all blends together so naturally.”


Ben Leinbach

Ben Leinbach

The opening track, “Peace Is Now – Invocation” floats on a lush orchestrated ambient soundscape, providing a background for voices in many languages speaking the words, “peace is now.” Various instruments weave in and out of the mix, including Bodhi’s mellifluous flute as it leads into a rhythmic section with many voices raised in song chanting the invocation. Moving on to the next track, the mantra begins its transformative journey through many musical genres, this one being Folk. As Marshall McLuhan famously said: “The medium is the message,” and in this case the soothing soundtrack of Bodhi’s acoustic guitar and flute along with the subtle sweet strains of Robert Powell’s pedal steel create the perfect mood for a song about peace. The track also features the vocals of Barbara Juniper, with Ben Leinbach on bass and percussion. Incidentally, Ben, who has produced Jai Uttal, Deva Premal, and others, played a very major role in this project, both instrumentally and as a producer/ engineer.


With so many artists appearing on the recording there isn’t room to mention them all, or to go into great detail on every track, but it is my pleasure to share what are for me, some of the many highlights of this beautiful and inspiring production. An interesting shift, and one that begins to hint at the scope of this project happens when the music goes from Folk Rock on song 3 to Jazz on song 4. To quote Led Zeppelin, “the song remains the same,” but it takes a whole different direction as it evolves from track to track. The jazzy ambience was soulful and sweet accented by the velvety sax tones of Joyus Lippincott and bluesy piano of Jef Labes. Vocalist Sam Rogers added an unexpected twist,  morphing from singing the Peace Is Now lyrics to cool scat vocals. And speaking of morphing, the mood transits from indigo-tinged swing to the sunny sounds of the Islands as the steel pans of Jeff Narell add a tropical vibe to an ensemble that includes drummer Celso Alberti who has played with artists as diverse as Steve Winwood, Herbie Mann, and Shambhu. I also enjoyed hearing a favorite vocalist of mine, Diane Patterson. A wonderful musician who I’ve had the pleasure of writing about a number of times and who adds his magic to this recording project is guitarist and stringed instrument maestro Todd Boston.


“Peace Is Now – Global” is well named for its inclusive array of instruments from around the world, such as udu, instrumentsdumbek, djembe, conch shells, kora, tabla, bass, keyboards and pedal steel, as well as vocals and throat singing. Bringing it back home however on the “Americana” version of “Peace Is Now” are the more home-grown sounds of mandolin, acoustic guitars and vocals that wove the familiar strains of “Amazing Grace” into the mix. For a moment the particular combination of instruments provided a flashback to the earthy acoustic Grateful Dead music from their American Beauty album. It was fascinating how each lead vocalist on the various songs, put their own spin on the mantra bringing in authentic bits and pieces of diverse cultural references while keeping with the overall theme of the lyrics.


I was most curious to hear what direction that “Peace Is Now – Rock” would take, given the wide spectrum of the rock music genre and how it would mesh with the song’s focus on peace. But the sound leans more towards laid-back Eagles-style California rock and works perfectly in this context. I particularly enjoyed the sultry and spirit-filled vocals of Lakshmi Devi that soared above the heavenly choir chanting, “peace is now.” Another rousing and heartfelt vocal performance was by Helen Bernard Gray, making a joyful noise on the “Gospel” version accompanied by the East Bay Church of Religious Science International Choir Ensemble. Helping to raise the roof were Stephen Meese on Hammond B3 organ and the tasteful electric lead guitar of Tom Finch, a member of 60’s rock icons Big Brother and the Holding Company. The album draws to a beautiful conclusion with “Peace Is Now – World” which is sung in Spanish. I liked the way that the rhythm dropped out midway through leading into a more ambient meditative movement accentuated by the lovely flugelhorn playing of Jeff Oster. It was a perfect way to end the recording, leaving the listener in a blissful reverie.


As mentioned, Peace Is Now represents a unique concept, ie. applying a particular melody and lyrics to a wide diversity of different musical genres and styles. As the idea for this project germinated in Bodhi’s mind, it started becoming clear to him that it could be more interesting and effective to present the mantra of “peace is now” in many languages and styles rather than an entire recording in one style. A great believer in the power of kirtan or devotional singing, Bodhi Bodhidescribes the process and the album in this way: “Through repetitive chant our subconscious mind opens to receive the imprint of our intentions. Peace Is Now could be my pièce de résistance, the culmination of years of visions and dreams – music that plants seeds of peace in our consciousness to blossom every day, creating peace. Without any pressure or judgment to be something we should be. Just allowing the music to take us into a gentle peaceful place – creating a reference point – remembering: peace is now.”


Bodhi has always been a pioneer, dating back to the early days of new age music in the 70’s. Peace Is Now, continues his legacy as an artist with a sincere desire to help raise consciousness on the planet and make a better world for all. Pulling all the elements of this project together was a huge undertaking, but one that has paid off in the end. Under Bodhi’s skillful direction many voices and instruments unite to sing and perform as one, maintaining their distinctiveness while resonating together in harmony. Peace Is Now is not only an enjoyable and uplifting listening experience, but is a powerful tool for bringing one into a peaceful state that can be shared with others. Kudos to Bodhi and all the many people involved in the creation of this wonderfully inspiring project.




This video from the Peace Is Now crowd funding campaign provides a nice introduction to Bodhi, samples of the music, and the motivation behind the project: