"Wealth will increasingly be defined by our ability to go offline whenever we want." - Fernando Gros
0 items in your cart
$0
Blog // Sounds
February 1, 2007

McClendon On Church And Jazz

“Some features of jazz wherever it appears correspond closely to African American free-church (i.e., baptist) life. Participation: In Jazz the roles of composer and performer are not sharply distinguished. Some early jazz musicians could not read music – or read at all. The music they learned from others was memorized, and this itself invited variations […]

“Some features of jazz wherever it appears correspond closely to African American free-church (i.e., baptist) life. Participation: In Jazz the roles of composer and performer are not sharply distinguished. Some early jazz musicians could not read music – or read at all. The music they learned from others was memorized, and this itself invited variations when memories clashed. Cooperation: polyphonic performance required of each player improvisation that preserved the harmonies and rhythms while allowing, indeed requiring, each to embellish it in line with the uniqueness of his or her instrument and imagination. No two renditions of a piece were identical. The resultant polyphony (call and response, in baptist worship terms) was the cooperative achievement of all players. Suppressed in the swing era, this communal and improvisatory structure has returned, as we will see in today‚Äôs jazz. Recognition: Radio disk jockeys typically announce the name of every performer in a jazz band. This contrasts with the custom in classical (European) music, where players remain anonymous save for a few stars. Equality for all in the church was matched by equality for all in the band. Inclusion: Jazz reached across ethnic, racial, and cultural barriers; it was the product of this cross-ethnic inclusion. It equalized peoples as well as individuals. Here again an original Christian idea stands behind the practice (‚Äúno such thing as Jew and Greek, slave and freeman, male and female: for you are all one [body] in Christ Jesus: – Gal 3:28). Participation, improvisation, cooperation, recognition, inclusion – these are the requirements for Christian worship of the sort commended by Paul in 1 Corinthians 14. They were the features of black baptist church life – which formed many of the early musicians.”

[tags] James Wm McClendon [/tags]

Responses
jay upp 14 years ago

wow. coolest thing i’ve read in a long time. donald miller should have included this in his opening monologue in “blue like Jazz”, this one paragraph is much better in explaining this connection. speaking of connection, i would add connection to that list, as jazz, and worship a soul connection is made between players and between God.

Phil Reilly 14 years ago

Ok, this is good… thanks for posting this Fernando. More rich food for thought. I’ll let this digest a little longer before I come back.

Fernando Gros 14 years ago

Jay – yes it is a brilliant quote. I agree that connection should be in there somewhere. McClendon does allude to that in the paes that surround this passage, but it is worth highlighting it directly.

Fernando Gros 14 years ago

Phil – yes, it really does build on the jazz and leadership discussion. I’ll be interested to see what thoughts it sparks for you.

C. Wess Daniels 14 years ago

Fernando – I was wondering if you could let me know where you got this from? Is it in “Witness” it’s really good.

Fernando Gros 14 years ago

Yes, it is from Witness. Chapter 4, the section called Grooving the Gospel – pages 173-4 in my edition.

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Enter your and your to join the mailing list.