But Now I See
Spiritjazz is straight-ahead Christian be-bop. The music of Spiritjazz is modern in it's truest form but it's melodies are derived from familiar songs and hymns that have stood the test of time. The Spiritjazz ensemble has been schooled in the traditions of American jazz style and improvisation and the musical arrangements contain all the key elements of good swing and solid jazz ensemble playing. Hearing these arrangements will give you a fresh take on classic and loved tunes of the Church. It is our mission that the music of Spiritjazz unites the richness of jazz with the hope and promise of faith in order to enhance each melody's original meaning. "But now I seeâ?¦" comes from the lyric of 'Amazing Grace': 'I once was lost but now I'm found, was blind but now I see.' We picked that title because the recording session of 'Amazing Grace' had a transforming effect on each of us. Done in the final 30 minutes of four, four-hour sessions, and we nearly didn't record it. Yet by the end of those last 30 minutes we knew we had something special. Nathan and Paul recently had watched a television documentary on how 'Amazing Grace' is performed throughout the world. The timelessness of this humble, beautiful melody became plain to all of us. It was profoundly moving to play this tune that has been interpreted musically in hundreds of ways. Our personal rendition is meditative and reflective, rather than purely redemptive. Tom's arrangement is reminiscent of Herbie Hancock's 'Maiden Voyage," a jazz classic with a wavy, splashy, cyclical feel characterizing a sea at play. With our roots in jazz, we join in spirit Christians from all backgrounds and traditions who declare in faith, 'But now I see ...' We hope you enjoy Spiritjazz! â?¦Music Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee Joyful uses an open, straight eight note feel with lots of space for comment from all the members of the ensemble. The horns are in the supportive role of the piano's melody, and they add interest for interludes and backgrounds during the bass and piano solos. Even in the tune key of G major the prominence of the F Lydian sound is not overcome and cannot be ignored. The tenor saxophone takes the first solo, which leads into the bass, trombone, and finally the piano. The end slowly resolves on an F major 7 #11 chord. Sweet, Sweet Spirit This song begins with Karen playing in the block chord style made popular by pianist Red Garland during his tenure with the Miles Davis Quintet in the mid 1950s. The harmony chosen for this tune includes a few harmonic turns, however the main idea is to let the melody and rhythm carry the song without too much added. It simply is a great tune for improvisation. Piano has the first solo followed by trombone, saxophone, and bass. Nathan continues to play brushes throughout which keeps the accompaniment from taking over, and let's the tune bounce. The horns add support to the melody at the end. Just simply a swinging gospel tune. There Is Power In The Blood The fullness of the 7'4" Yamaha piano is utilized in this ballad treatment of a southern gospel melody. I chose to have the melody played by Heather because we enjoy her sound and presence when we work at Grace-Trinity Community Church. Her violin brings out this beautiful melody, and allows us to change the character of the band. The harmony has been altered to lift the second half of the melody, and to make it a fertile vehicle for players and soloist. Bass and drums enter midway before the melody is handed over to the trombone for another expressive solo. These two instruments blend and weave to enhance this melody and bring out the darkness of timbre that the "power of the blood" alludes to. Dave improvises a counter melody until the coda. We Are One In The Spirit This '60s Christian tune is reworked using harmony inspired by the 1950s/60s tenor and soprano saxophonist John Coltrane. The tune is based on a chant figure, which underlies the melody and becomes the basis for an extended solo section in two keys. The tension of this chant is released by an eight-bar interlude; each time we return to the chant the character of the accompaniment changes slightly. This is one of my favorite saxophone solos of the session. Paul evokes a haunting sound by his use of quartertones and by bending notes. Dave follows with an equally fine solo, and he is on fire for the dual improvisation with Paul before returning to the melody. The final statement of the theme ends with one more call and response and Karen joining in for the last word. A Mighty Fortress Is Our God Bach harmonized the first version of Martin Luther's " Mighty Fortress," and we have used his version as an introduction to our introduction. After it ends on C major, we lift up the key to E flat major for the remainder of the tune. Harmonically this tune is modeled after tenor saxophonist Joe Henderson's 'Black Narcissus' and 'Inner Urge,' from his classic Blue Note Period in the early 1960s. The melody is played mostly in octaves for the A sections with the flute an octave above the violin, and the trombone reinforcing the bass line. At the B section the violin takes the melody with flute and trombone adding color to the violin. The main harmonic interest of this tune is the cadence at the end of each section of an E major seventh chord, which is played for either four or two measures. Everyone takes turns for solos until returning with the theme. Water Is Wide The horns take the lead on this traditional melody matched with an extensive reworking of the original harmony. Reflecting the river analogy, the chords flow into each other and evoke the feeling of gentle movement. The drums continue to play in a broken time feel and represent the undercurrent of the river. Every player's solo projects a singing, soaring quality that deftly negotiates the harmonic changes. I've chosen a horn cannon to end, which adds to the power of this melody and performance. The final true "jazz chord,' E 7 # 9, washes away the tonality to take you back into the flow of the river. Kumbaya This song takes us back to Miles Davis' influential recording of "So What." As in the original, the bass plays the melody, and the answer figure is first played by piano, then with the horns added for the second statement. The chords are based on quartal harmony instead of tertian harmony. The primary interval in the chord is a perfect fourth instead of a major or minor third. If you strum a guitar from the lowest string to the highest you will get this same type of chord. Since Miles Davis and pianist Bill Evans established this sound on the recording, "Kind of Blue,' it has become part of the modern jazz harmonic repertoire. The harmony stays within two key areas, although unlike "So What's" use of D and E flat, we use D and E as our tonal centers. After the trombone and sax solo, the bass solo leads us back into the melody cadencing on a G major 7 #11chord. Built On A Rock This piece is a standard song of the Lutheran church, although one time I had the congregation sing with the band to somewhat mixed reviews. The easily identifiable difference in this tune is that it is not in common time, but in five. The "rock" is the vamp that keeps us firmly rooted in the key of C minor; another "rock" is the steady pulsing of the bass, and drums. Although Dave Brubeck had a hit with his tune "Take Five,' other musician such as percussionist Max Roach and pianist Cedar Walton also have composed songs in this meter. The drums take the first solo, an unusual but effective device. The trombone comes next followed by the saxophone as the band switches to straight-ahead swing, albeit in five-four instead of the more common four-four time. The melody is played again from the bridge before the vamp leads us out to the ending. Listen for the splash of the cymbal during the final chord. Amazing Grace Unlike all the carefully copied charts created for this session this one inspired the comment, "Did you write this in your car?" Even though the chart was sketchy to look at everyone came through with a great performance of this tune. The melody has been elongated and the horns play it as a sustained line throughout the head, with the piano weaving and the bass and drums free to accent. The arrangement tries to capture some of the feeling of Herbie Hancock's 'Maiden Voyage', and bassist Eberhard Webber's work in the early 1980s. A dialogue continues throughout the piano and bass solos. The trombone has the next solo, which he plays muted. As the saxophone comes in the time feel intensifies until the melody returns to build to the finish. The bass and piano leave us adrift for the final washing of sound. Be Thou My Vision Karen and the piano at Creation Studio takes center stage for this traditional Irish tune. When we first rehearsed it Karen thought that the bass was playing along until she realized that the low end of this piano was so rich. She plays the head in a loose rubato style until joined by the bass and drums for the second chorus. Paul plays a soulful solo on the tenor saxophone, followed by bass and piano. The piece builds in intensity throughout the piano solo with two melodic statements that slow down and grow until the final splash at the end. Check out the low "C" in the bass and the breathy tone of the tenor on the final chord. This Little Light Of Mine I have used many combinations of instruments for this song over the past five years. Believe it or not, Walt Disney's "Hercules" inspired this version. I remember watching it at the KOA campground in Kennebeck SD in an outdoor picnic area and enjoying the music greatly. This was an unusual tune for this session, but one that we all had a lot of fun playing. Certainly this spirit comes through on the track, and we look forward to performing this song again and again.