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Spiritual jazz

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I'm not all that interested in gospel in general, and there aren't too many gospel or hymn-based jazz records that I can really listen to all the way through, even instrumental--my preference over vocal. Of course, it depends on how you view "spiritual jazz." Many find much of Coltrane's music to be spiritual, and I would concur with that.

Anyway, I have put together a couple of playlists of spiritual jazz, with Cyrus Chestnut and Charlie Haden figuring heavily. Indeed, Steal Away by Hank Jones and Charlie Haden may be the high water mark for me. But I also have Ellington, Monk, Charles Lloyd, Grant Green, Donald Byrd (the incredibly moving "Cristo Redentor"), Randy Weston, Arthur Blythe, and more.

Of course, many jazz musicians (especially older ones) have a church background, so this stuff is bound to enter their professional music--sometimes directly, sometimes in a very subtle way.

Any recommendations (CDs or individual pieces) are welcome.

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I always loved In God We Trust off the Harper Brothers cd Artistry. I was very sad when they stopped recording together, I thought they had a lot of promise.

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Much of Mary Lou Williams' later work was very religious, and I recall having once had an LP called "Black Christ of The Andes" on Saba.

Pianist/composer Joe Masters wrote and recorded "Jazz Mass" in the mid-'60s for Columbia (CS 9398) that was re-issued on Discovery (DS 785). It followed a Roman Catholic liturgy: Kyrie, Gloria In Excelsis, Credo, Sanctus, Benedictus, Pater Nostros, Agnus Dei.

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Kenny Garrett: Beyond the Wall, Pursuance: The Music of John Coltrane. I would also suggest much of the Pat Metheny Group's music that, while not referencing spirituality or God in that sense, the music reaches for an elevated place, to an area of something that reaches a spiritual experience. When you go to a PMG show, you really feel it. I got rid of it, but there are tracks on Jarrett/Haden's "Jasmine" that have that vibe, "Ascent" by Lyle Mays from his self titled. Of course if you do not like jazz with electronics or jazz that touches on pop areas, these may not be for you.

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The two jazz performances of spiritual material that I find most convincing are

Les McCann - The gospel truth - Pacific Jazz

and, even more so,

Gene Ammons - Preachin' - Prestige (originally recorded ex-contract for Argo)

Gene takes all this material quite seriously and doesn't try to 'jazz it up' - or not much; he couldn't help the way he played, I guess :)

MG

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Much of Mary Lou Williams' later work was very religious, and I recall having once had an LP called "Black Christ of The Andes" on Saba.

Pianist/composer Joe Masters wrote and recorded "Jazz Mass" in the mid-'60s for Columbia (CS 9398) that was re-issued on Discovery (DS 785). It followed a Roman Catholic liturgy: Kyrie, Gloria In Excelsis, Credo, Sanctus, Benedictus, Pater Nostros, Agnus Dei.

Second both of those recommendations. The Masters LP is excellent, and features Tony Ortega, Harold Land, Bob West, Roger Guerin and Mike Wofford among others. There are also a couple of other Mary Lou Williams LPs that are or could be relevant: Mary Lou's Mass and Zodiac Suite.

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I do want to investigate Mary Lou Williams. I don't know the records by McCann and Ammons. I'll try to check into them.

Seems like a lot of tenor players have that vibe going: Coltrane, Charles Lloyd, Billy Harper, Pharoah Sanders, and some of the work of David Murray.

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Having Lloyd right next to Trane in that list ... ouch! But then what's right is wrong and what's wrong ... though I tend to take Lloyd for drug-hazed pop-spirituality, at least back when ... quite like his later stuff on ECM, at least what I heard. The duo album with Billy Higgins doesn't have too many fans, I think, but it might fit with what you're looking for.

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Drummer Carl Allen's Atlantic cd called Testimonial that ends with a beautiful tune, A City Called Heaven, sung by Kevin Mahogany. Lineup of Nicholas Payton, Vincent Herring, Cyrus Chestnut, Christian McBride, etc. All the tunes are very much "of the church".

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I do have Carl Allen's record...picked it up very cheap several years ago.

Oh, I like Charles Lloyd a lot...records like Lift Every Voice and Rabo de Nube....saw him live 6 or 7 years ago and that was great too. Nice players around him, like the late great Billy Higgins, John Abercrombie, Jason Moran, and Geri Allen. I really like "Prayer" (duo with Abercrombie) and "There is a Balm in Gilead" (duo with Higgins).

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I'm not religious but sometimes music can be affecting in ways I can't really express. Love this kind of thing and my vote goes to Archie Shepp and Horace Parlan duo Goin' Home. Gospel themes and Ellington. Excellent.

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David Murray ; Spirituals. DIW

David Murray; Speaking in Tongues. Justin Time

C Anthony Bush; Our Praise Offering.Spirit

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When asked about religion, Charlie Parker replied, "I'm a devout musician".

Q

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Oh, I should also have mentioned Fred Anderson. I think both 'From the river to the ocean', with Hamid Drake, and 'Duets 2001' with Robert Barry (both on Thrill Jockey) would find a welcome in this vein.

MG

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When asked about religion, Charlie Parker replied, "I'm a devout musician".

Q

The poet/artist Ted Joans had as a motto "Jazz is my Religion, and Surrealism is my point of view". I think I quoted him among my last words on the air when I retired. I know I finished with "Ite, missa est".

(Joans is apparently the guy who started the graffiti "Bird Lives!")

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When I think of "spiritual jazz" I think of post-Coltrane modal plateau mossy stuff, perhaps with electric piano, additional percussion, and/or choral elements. Funky rhythms are encouraged, but with significantly longer tracks than "jazz-dance" DJ material (such as Sahib Shihab Seeds, Sadi records, etc.). It's more a tag for collectors and the increased wallet linings of dealers than any real aesthetic thrust. I tend to like some of these kinds of records just because I like good music, but I'm sometimes amazed by the prices that people will pay for that one "spiritual groover" that few would have batted an eye at 10-20 yrs ago.

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Ellington's Sacred Music Concerts (people talking about God; as opposed to religious music, people talking to God -- Duke's def.)

Dave Brubeck wrote sacred music, too. A mass, several other large scale works, "Light in the Wilderness."

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Check out gospel saxophonist Vernhard Johnson. Imagine a cross between Junior Walker and Albert Ayler.

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Does Chick Corea and the Church Of Scientology count?

That stuff will reinforce your Atheist spirit.

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All music is siritual, if you play it right...

Well put!

And Mary Lou Williams is definitley worth a listen.

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