|Posted by Geoffrey Moran on November 5, 2010 at 3:11 AM|
Why Jazz Belongs In Worship - by Bradley Sowash
(Reprinted from Presbyterians Today, September 2003)
• Jazz is multi-cultural and inclusive - Jazz was born in America when the harmonic and melodically based music of European colonists blended with African rhythms preserved by slaves. Jazz continues to be enjoyed by people of diverse backgrounds.
• Jazz is indigenous but universal - Jazz is indigenous to America, unlike the European musical imports featured in much of U.S. Christian worship. It is also enjoyed worldwide. Similarly, when we gather together to worship locally, we simultaneously participate in a worldwide Christian body.
• Jazz involves cooperation - Each musician both supports his/her colleagues and work as a soloist. Listeners inspire the music through their reactions. Church life exemplifies similar cooperation.
• Jazz makes for excellent outreach – Many churches have discovered that a jazz worship service appeals to people whose past experiences have led them to consider organized religion uninviting, dogmatic, irrelevant or even repressive.
• Jazz is spontaneous - The essence of jazz is improvisation, spontaneous variations on a given theme. Creativity relies on a connection to the Spirit. Jazz imitates God's creation - ever evolving.
• Jazz has a range - Sometimes meditative, sometimes celebratory, jazz touches us by speaking directly to a spectrum of emotions. Louis Armstrong said, "What we play is life." The church year also reflects this range of experience - from the wonder of Christmas to the reflective Lent season, and from baptisms to weddings to funerals.
• Jazz offers a tradition-based alternative – Most churches are interested in balancing heritage and contemporary relevance. Jazz renditions of the remarkable American hymnody we inherited link the past to the present.
• Jazz crosses generations – Unlike some types of music featured in contemporary worship services, jazz appeals to people of all ages.