|This biographical article relies on references to primary sources. (July 2011)|
|Born||15 June 1961|
|Genres||Funk, jazz, jazz fusion, world music|
|Associated acts||Garaj Mahal
Torsten de Winkel
Kai Eckhardt (15 June 1961) is a German born musician and composer who plays bass, best known for his work with John McLaughlin, Vital Information, Torsten de Winkel, Billy Cobham and Garaj Mahal, the band he co-founded. The Marcus Miller-influenced bassist is known for his lightning fast chordal slap style abilities, and for his unique combination of funk, jazz, and world music.
Kai began to play bass guitar 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 both Kai 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.
Meanwhile, Kai 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, Kai 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.
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. In 2008, he appeared on the CD of the UNESCO endorsed Bimbache Jazz y Raices global encounter project and reconnected with Torsten de Winkel, leading to renewed collaborations of the two in Garaj Mahal and later in de Winkel's group Idiot Savants. Kai is presently also working with his own new group Zeitgeist and runs a mentorship program for young musicians.
- Torsten de Winkel - Mastertouch (EMI 1985), with Michael Brecker, Alphonse Mouzon and others
- Steve Smith's Vital Information - Fia Fiaga (Columbia/Sony 1988), with Frank Gambale, Torsten de Winkel and others
- BassTalk (HotWire 1989)
- Curandero - Aras (Silver Wave 1996), with Ty Burhoe, Miguel Espinoza, and Chris Wolverton
- Aziza Mustafa Zadeh - Inspiration Colors & Reflections (Sony 2000), with Bill Evans, Omar Hakim and others
- Kai Eckhardt - Honour Simplicity, Respect the Flow (2000) with Aydın Esen, Courtney Pine, Zakir Hussain and others
- Bimbache Jazz y Raices - La Condicion Humana (nyjg/ESC 2008), with Gregoire Maret, Torsten de Winkel, Maria Merida and others
- Kai Eckhardt official website
- Kai Eckhardt on Myspace
- Garaj Mahal official website
- Garaj Mahal on Myspace