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Kai Eckhardt is a Liberian / German bassist known through his work with guitarist John McLaughlin in the late 80's, Billy Cobham in the 90's and Garaj Mahal in the new millennium. Other career highlights include performances and recordings with: Trilok Gurtu, Stanley Clarke, Wayne Shorter, Patrice Rushen, Dewey Redman, Donald Byrd, Bela Fleck, Victor Wooten, Robert Walter, Karl Denson, Michael Franti, Larry Coryell, Warren Hill, Al Di Meola, Zakir Hussain, Vital Information , John Scofield and Bill Frisell.

His active career spans 3 decades. Kai is currently a professor at the Jazz School Institute in Berkeley, CA who frequently teaches clinics and workshops world wide. Teaching engagements include the Berklee School of Music in Boston, the Bass Collective in New York City, BIT in Hollywood, the Anton Bruckner Conservatory in Austria, the Indian Institute of Technology in Chennai, the Amsterdam Conservatory in the Netherlands and Victor Wooten’s Bass and Nature camp.

Kai Eckhardt’s current projects:

-Fusion Band Garaj Mahal, winner of the 2007 Independent Music Awards, and Chicago Music Awards nominee for 2009.
-San Francisco Rock Band Kbrandow
-Indian Jazz Band Summit featuring George Brooks and Zakir Hussain
-Funk Band RAD featuring Prince keyboardist Rose Ann Dimalanta
-Euro-fusion trio with Alex Machacek and Marco Minneman.
-Turkish singer Sertab Erener

More Information, CD Quality Downloads and discography at Listening examples at

Life Story

Kai Eckhardt was born the year of 1961 in Mainz/ Germany, raised by his German mother in the town of Bingen until the age of six. Joining his African father, Kai moved to Monrovia, Liberia where he spent four years attending West African middle school. In 1970 he returned to Germany into foster care. During this period Kai developed a talent in competitive sports, excelling in track, gymnastics and diving. In 1972, Kai won the title “junior district champion” in the one-and three meter board diving competitions. After a series of injuries Kai turned away from competitive sports and discovered music. A bass guitar was given to him by a school mate and he began practicing seriously.

Besides music, academics where an important factor in Kai’s life. Kai received his German high school diploma in 1980, finishing with the second best grade point average of his class. In 1982 Kai conscientiously objected to the German army. After being interviewed at a military court, he was released from the draft. In substitution for the army training, Kai became a nurse’s assistant at the Children’s Neurological Institute in Mainz Germany, caring for severely handicapped inpatients. Throughout his service Kai remained faithful to his instrument, the bass guitar.

After receiving a scholarship to Berklee College of Music, Kai left Germany to attend music college in Boston, MA in the year of 1983. After graduating with honors in 1987, Kai began his active touring life as a bassist, clinician and composer. He has been on the road ever since. averaging between 100 and 120 shows a year.

Besides music, Kai has developed a strong interest in social justice and environmental issues. In the past he has helped put together benefits for the homeless, rallies for green collar jobs and poetry projects featuring socially conscious messages. He has collaborated on projects with activists Julia Butterfly Hill, Deb Delman, Alli Chagi-Starr, Van Jones and Majora Carter among others. Kai is a proud member and supporter of “Green for All”.

Today Kai Eckhardt resides in Berkeley, California, married with two children. His wife Regina is from Sao Paulo, Brazil and his children Danilo and Naima are growing up tri-lingual, speaking Portuguese, English and German.

Selected Discography

(See album covers, 52 in all)
Artist Album Year Label
Alphonse Mouzon The sky is the limit 1986 VeraBra
Torsten de Winkel Mastertouch 1986 VeraBra
Steve Smith’s Vital Information Fiafiaga 1988 Columbia
Mike Gibbs Big Music 1988 Virgin
Bass Talk 1,2 & 3 1989-1993 Hot Wire
Tom Coster From me to you 1990 Headfirst
John Mc Laughlin Trio Live at the Royal Festival Hall 1990 JMT
John Mc Laughlin Trio Que Alegria 1992 Verve
Warren Hill Devotion 1993 BMG
Clarence Clemmons Peacemaker 1995 Zoo
Paul Hanson Astro Boy Blues 1995 Midi
Aziza Mustafa Zadeh with Al di Meola Dance of Fire 1995 Sony
Richard S. & the Vibe Tribe Cool Shoes 1995 Lipstick
Spencer Brewer and Paul Mc Candless Torches on the lake 1996 Access
Dudu Tucci Native Dreamer 1996 Weltwunder
Maria Joao Fabula 1996 PolyGram
Curandero (feat. Bela Fleck) Aras 1996 Silverwave
Trilok Gurtu Kathak 1998 Escapade
Sovoso Truth and other tales 1998 P.A.C.
Vibe Tribe foreign affairs 1998 Lipstick
Gregory James and Kai Eckhardt The Search 1998 Rogue Records
Gregory James Reincarnation 2001 Rogue Records
Anyu with Bob Moses Anyu 1998 Bamboo Records
Billy Cobham Missisisppi knights 1998 Wenlock Records
Trilok Gurtu African Fantasy 2000 ESC
Kit Walker Freehouse 2000 Independent
Kai Eckhardt Honour Simplicity, Respect the Flow 2000 Naim Label
Larry Coryell and Steve Marcus Count's Jamband 2000 Tone Center
George Brooks/Zakir Hussain Summit 2002 Moment Records
James Robinson Colours 2003 Independant
Jason McGuire Distancias 2002 Covadoga Music
Garaj Mahal Live Vol. 1,2, & 3 2003 Harmonized Records
Garaj Mahal Mondo Garaj 2003 Harmonized Records
Zigaboo Modeliste I'm in the right track 2004 JZM Records
A Tribute to Weather Report Mysterious Voyages 2005 ESC Records
Mahavishnu Tribute Visions of an inner mounting Apocalypse 2005 Tone Center
Bill Douglass Sky 2005 Tala Records
Garaj Mahal Blueberry Cave 2005 Harmonized Records
Garaj Mahal Woot 2008 Owlstudios Records

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Feature Articles & Interviews about Kai Eckhardt have appeared in the following publications:

  › Jazziz -- USA
  › Downbeat -- USA
  › Bassplayer -- USA
  › Bassfrontiers -- USA
  › Gitarre und Bass -- Germany
  › Der Bass Bote -- Germany
  › Jazz Podium -- Germany
  › Fachblatt -- Germany
  › Guitar & Bass -- France
  › Bombay Times -- Inida

  › Jazz times -- Turkey