Jazz music in church

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joeburns
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Jazz music in church

Post by joeburns »

What does anyone else feel about doing music in a jazz style in church??
Something I've recently read said "Jazz, for example, cannot today be part of a musical repertoire designed for worship".
This person was talking particularly in respect of Catholic services and the quote was his take on something that Cardinal G Lercaro said about the implementation of Sacrosanctum Concilium.
Any ideas?
Joe Burns
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Nick Baty
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Re: Jazz music in church

Post by Nick Baty »

I can't see anything wrong with it in theory – but I can in practice.
Will it unite the assembly in worship? I suspect not. More likely to divide.

Will it really carry the words of the liturgy when it has so many secular connotations?

I'm not quite old enough to remember those crowded, sweaty bars full of androgynous boys (watch Christopher and his kind on BBC iPlayer) but I do remember the days when the air would be thick with smoke (Ah! Happy days, indeed!) and the singers all sounded like Marianne Faithfull (the older Marianne Faithful, that is, who sounded as though she had chewed a cheese grater – so much better than the sickly sweet convent girl voice of the 60s).

Ah! I was born too late. Carry me back to old Berlin.

joeburns
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Re: Jazz music in church

Post by joeburns »

Well........ songs from Cabaret was not really what I had in mind! It would probably more likely be spirituals or things like Bob Hurd's 'Abide in Me' or 'The Good Shepherd' - which are undoubtedly jazz in their styling and yet very biblical.
Joe Burns
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alan29
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Re: Jazz music in church

Post by alan29 »

I'd better get my coat then ......... we play "In bread we bring you Lord" with a "cowboy" accompaniment, Our God Reigns to a swift blues-style accompaniment. In fact one of the new ICEL Glorias I am composing starts with the direction "In a laid back Latin style, with plenty of 3 against 4 action." and we are much given to putting chromatic jazz chords into things. Far from complaining, I had a request from a 70 year old parishioner for the occasional "Count Basie" ending. :mrgreen:

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Nick Baty
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Re: Jazz music in church

Post by Nick Baty »

alan29 wrote:we play "In bread we bring you Lord" with a "cowboy" accompaniment, Our God Reigns to a swift blues-style accompaniment.

We've moved on from style to taste – both the above should be barred, banned, exorcised, thrown, ejected, defenestrated and generally got rid of. (Well, that's what some might think!)

alan29
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Re: Jazz music in church

Post by alan29 »

Nick Baty wrote:
alan29 wrote:we play "In bread we bring you Lord" with a "cowboy" accompaniment, Our God Reigns to a swift blues-style accompaniment.

We've moved on from style to taste – both the above should be barred, banned, exorcised, thrown, ejected, defenestrated and generally got rid of. (Well, that's what some might think!)


Actually Our God Reigns is but a memory (apart from the doody of a clarinet part I wrote.) And there is such a dearth of what we seem to have gone back to calling Offertory hymns, that that one gets an occasional airing - maybe 3 or 4 times a year.

HallamPhil
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Re: Jazz music in church

Post by HallamPhil »

I wonder if the Bob Hurd you mention, Joe, is more Gospel in style than jazz? If you want jazz then listen to Jacques Loussier's Mass and Magnificat ... but I don't imagine this being sung by the assembly nor achievable by many parish music groups.

nazard
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Re: Jazz music in church

Post by nazard »

alan29 wrote:... Far from complaining, I had a request from a 70 year old parishioner for the occasional "Count Basie" ending.


Why does that surprise you? Most of Count Basie's fans will be over 70 now.

The name Jazz seems to cover quite a wide range of styles, some of which you could probably get away with. Some say jazz grew out of the negro spirituals, and they are certainly useable. Back in 1994 the Hilliard Ensemble produced Officium, with saxophone descants in a jazz style over chant and polyphony, and I felt that worked. I would love to try it with Allegri's Miserere.

On the other hand, for several years Radio 3's Choral Evensong did a jazz evensong annually, which I always found pretty dreadful.

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mcb
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Re: Jazz music in church

Post by mcb »

Count me in favour: if it genuinely works as prayer then any musical style is suitable. Artistic merit and aesthetic homogeneity are very subsidiary aims in comparison. Anyway, I take it as axiomatic that diversity in itself is a sign of being truly Catholic.

We do a cracking good setting of the Gloria in Cuban jazz style by Daniel Bath. We had it at the Mass of Chrism one year, with jazz trumpeters and Latin percussion. The congregation took to it with energy and a smile. It went down well at Summer School in 2007 too, if I remember right.

alan29
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Re: Jazz music in church

Post by alan29 »

nazard wrote:
alan29 wrote:... Far from complaining, I had a request from a 70 year old parishioner for the occasional "Count Basie" ending.


Why does that surprise you? Most of Count Basie's fans will be over 70 now.

The name Jazz seems to cover quite a wide range of styles, some of which you could probably get away with. Some say jazz grew out of the negro spirituals, and they are certainly useable. Back in 1994 the Hilliard Ensemble produced Officium, with saxophone descants in a jazz style over chant and polyphony, and I felt that worked. I would love to try it with Allegri's Miserere.

On the other hand, for several years Radio 3's Choral Evensong did a jazz evensong annually, which I always found pretty dreadful.


I remember going to a Eucharist at St Martins in the Fields where they did Johnny Dankworth's Mass, with him and his band ......... it seemed to have all the life sucked out of it, and was so very worthy. But Cleo's voice gave me the usual goose-pimples.

joeburns
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Re: Jazz music in church

Post by joeburns »

Thanks for the comments so far - I take the point about Bob Hurd being more 'Gospel' than jazz - but then (to my limited way of musical thinking) aren't the two styles related??

But... what about some theological justification one way or another??
Joe Burns
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HallamPhil
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Re: Jazz music in church

Post by HallamPhil »

Theological justification? .. what about 'God's favourite colour is tartan' ... a bit similar to Martin's open acceptance of God in diversity.

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Calum Cille
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Re: Jazz music in church

Post by Calum Cille »

Leaving theological wranglings aside, here is some authoritative material that might pertain to the question of the use of jazz.

Musicam sacram, the Instruction on Music in the Liturgy, says,

New melodies to be used by the priests and ministers must be approved by the competent territorial authority.

Those Episcopal Conferences whom it may concern will ensure that for one and the same language, used in different regions, there will be a single translation. It is also desirable that as far as possible, there should be one or more common melodies for the parts which concern the priest and ministers, and for the responses and acclamations of the people, so that the common participation of those who use the same language may be encouraged.

Musicians will enter on this new work with the desire to continue that tradition which has furnished the Church, in her divine worship, with a truly abundant heritage. Let them examine the works of the past, their types and characteristics, but let them also pay careful attention to the new laws and requirements of the Liturgy, so that "new forms may in some way grow organically from forms that already exist," and the new work will form a new part in the musical heritage of the Church, not unworthy of its past.

The new melodies for the vernacular texts certainly need to undergo a period of experimentation in order that they may attain a sufficient maturity and perfection. However, anything done in churches, even if only for experimental purposes, which is unbecoming to the holiness of the place, the dignity of the Liturgy and the devotion of the faithful, must be avoided.

Adapting sacred music for those regions which possess a musical tradition of their own, especially mission areas, will require a very specialized preparation by the experts. It will be a question in fact of how to harmonize the sense of the sacred with the spirit, traditions and characteristic expressions proper to each of these peoples. Those who work in this field should have a sufficient knowledge both of the Liturgy and musical tradition of the Church, and of the language, popular songs and other characteristic expressions of the people for whose benefit they are working.

"The use of other instruments may also be admitted in divine worship, given the decision and consent of the competent territorial authority, provided that the instruments are suitable for sacred use, or can be adapted to it, that they are in keeping with the dignity of the temple, and truly contribute to the edification of the faithful.

In permitting and using musical instruments, the culture and traditions of individual peoples must be taken into account. However, those instruments which are, by common opinion and use, suitable for secular music only, are to be altogether prohibited from every liturgical celebration and from popular devotions.


The apostolic exhortation Ecclesia in America says,

Just as she was able to evangelize rural culture for centuries, the Church is called in the same way today to undertake a methodical and far-reaching urban evangelization through catechesis, the liturgy and the very way in which her pastoral structures are organized. ... it is necessary to inculturate preaching in such a way that the Gospel is proclaimed in the language and in the culture of its hearers. ... “The Church “recognizes that it must approach these Americans [indigenous and African origin] from within their own culture, taking seriously the spiritual and human riches of that culture which appear in the way they worship, their sense of joy and solidarity, their language and their traditions”.


Jazz is not native to Europe and the question is therefore whether or not it can be judged as an ethnic tradition and an ethnic tradition in the British Isles or as using instruments adaptable to sacred use or as in some way growing organically from pre-existing forms of sacred music or as a new artistic expression of the faith.

The apostolic exhortation Ecclesia in Europa says,

... new artistic expressions of the faith should be promoted through a constant dialogue with those engaged in the arts.

alan29
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Re: Jazz music in church

Post by alan29 »

joeburns wrote:Thanks for the comments so far - I take the point about Bob Hurd being more 'Gospel' than jazz - but then (to my limited way of musical thinking) aren't the two styles related??

But... what about some theological justification one way or another??


Theology doesn't come into it ..... its a purely cultural thing.

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Mithras
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Re: Jazz music in church

Post by Mithras »

Duje Ellington once said that there are only two kinds of music - good and bad. If a piece of jazz is good and crafted in a way to aid worship there is no reason why it should not be used in church. Bob Chilcott's setting of the Latin text of the Mass in a jazz style is a good example. And the motet Hymn a la Vierge by Pierre Villette is soggy with nighclub harmonies!

Plenty of organ music has been written which is influenced by jazz. Mayhew publishes some volumes of just such music one of which I use, called Swing Gently. A Mayhew house composer, the Australian Rosie Bonighton seems to write little else and her piece Exultate Deo in the collection Fiesta is a jolly good romp.

I've just started learning a piece called Bluesday by Iain Farrington, recenly publised in a volume called The Little Organ Book, issued to support the Organists' Benevolent Fund and edited by Martin Neary. The piece's title speaks for itself. It's going into my next recital.

William Mathias' Toccata Giocosa is full of 6ths and 9ths and has an unmistakably jazzy feel to it.

Back to music for the lirurgy, what about Ernie Sands' Sing of the Lord's Goodness with its clear homage to Dave Brubeck/Paul Desmond? Ray d'Inverno has written a fair amount of jazz-based liturgical pieces.

These are just a few examples - I'm sure there are many more.

Mithras

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