Workshops

The cultural motif of Jazz and the Spiritual weight of love illuminate my view of the church - a dynamic living organism empowered by the Holy Spirit.

Rev. Otis Moss, III

Duke Ellington's Spiritual Quest
Dr. Regennia N. Williams and Mr. Drene Ivy
"Every man prays in his own language, and there is no language that God does not understand." This oft-quoted statement by Duke Ellington provided the inspiration for our special midday session that juxtaposes Ellington's thoughts on religion with some of his most memorable compositions. For this informal program, Regennia Williams will supply the narration, Drene Ivy will render the piano jazz, and you are welcome to bring your lunch!

The Spirituality of Jazz
Rev. Dr. Harry Serio
Jazz is America's music. From its origins in West African rhythms to its contemporary beat, it is the music of the soul, reflecting the deep emotions of the human spirit. We will discuss the history of jazz emerging from pain, suffering and grace, its meaning in our culture, a look into the spiritual lives of jazz musicians, the impact of improvisational music, and what jazz can teach the church. We'll also explore the use of jazz in therapy, and as a resource for understanding, expressing and implementing change as we seek to discern the calling of our stillspeaking God.

Developing Repertoire for Jazz Worship
Willie Sordillo
In this workshop we will explore sources for repertoire which contributes to meaningful and creative jazz-oriented worship.  We will talk about the meaning of "spiritual" music, discuss what qualities we're striving for in choosing music for worship, and explore ways to adapt music from diverse traditions into a jazz setting to evoke a deep worship experience.  We will delve into a number of sources using concrete examples to demonstrate how music from varied traditions can be transformed for a jazz worship setting, including but not limited to:  Jazz written as spiritual music; jazz standards; hymns arranged with a jazz sensibility; African American spirituals and gospel music; pop music; original compositions; and free improvisation.  Musicians are invited to bring a composition or arrangement to share if they would like, though this is not a requirement for participating in the workshop.
 
Come Sunday @ 70:  Duke Ellington's Sacred Jazz in Retrospect
Dr. Reginnia N. Williams
Session I (1:00):  Religious Roots and "Black, Brown, and Beige"
Session II (2:45):  Vocal Jazz and the Sacred Concerts
Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington (1899-1974) was one of the world's most renowned jazz pianists and composers.  He was also one of the first 20th-century artists to present sacred jazz in concert halls and church settings, and his now famous "Come Sunday" had its world premiere in 1943 as part of a Carnegie Hall performance of Ellington's Black, Brown, and Beige.   "Come Sunday" grew in popularity after Mahalia Jackson, arguably the greatest gospel vocalist of the twentieth century, teamed up with Ellington in 1958 to record an a cappella version of "Come Sunday" on the Columbia label.  Based on an analysis of primary sources from the Smithsonian Institution's Duke Ellington Collection and other materials, these sessions will focus on the musical roots and lasting influences of Ellington's sacred jazz.
 
Crafting Worship in the Key of Jazz
Rev. Cliff Aerie

So you want to start a jazz worship service but don't know where to start? Where do traditional liturgy and jazz improvisation intersect? How is an effective "jazz liturgy" constructed? How can jazz enhance the worship experience? Our time together will focus on these primary questions and go a step further: A famous jazz pianist lent his neighbor one of his CD recordings. The neighbor returned it saying, he'd been trying to build a fireplace in his living room while listening to the CD, and found the music a distraction. His main complaint? The music was so compelling that he had to stop and listen to it. Jazz is compelling music, capable of pulling worshippers into a deep, resonant encounter with the Spirit. During our time together we'll not only talk theory, but begin crafting a jazz worship service that you can take home with you.
 
From Bach to Brubeck: Learning from The Great Improvisers
Rev. Bill Carter
All of us have the ability to create, interpret, and improvise. Somewhere along the line, however, this ability may have been squelched. Join us for a conversation about the qualities of imagination and freedom that allow fresh music to emerge from stale tones and printed manuscripts. We will re-acquaint ourselves with some great improvisers in musical history to discover how we might join them in that ever-emerging tradition. We will discern ways to welcome the Spirit's power in our music.

Blues Preaching: How to Preach to the Brokenhearted and with a Broken Heart
Rev. Dr. Kirk Byron Jones
A gospel or "good news" that does not squarely face the most fierce crushing of the human heart, is not good enough. Yet, preaching to persons who are in the valley of sadness and hurt, and preaching when we are there ourselves, is a potent challenge. Jazz, birthed, in part, by Blues, offers sure and strong guidance for healing proclamation to, with, and through the real pain of life. Workshop participants will receive ideas and practices, and create some of their own, that will produce inspired and effective Blues Preaching. This Blues Preaching workshop will be memorably enhanced by the touching and triumphant video and audio musical testimonies of Billie Holiday and "Little" Jimmy Scott.