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CJA Interview
Bradley Sowash
Featured Articles
Kim Jordan
Notable Quotes

Welcome to the Christian Jazz Artists Newsletter!
April 2004

A monthly e-newsletter from Songs Of David designed to keep you encouraged, informed, and aware of all the helpful resources that are available to you as a Christian jazz musician, worship leader, worship band member, or just a jazz lover!  

~ This Month's Issue  ~ 

Featured Interview: Jazz Pianist Bradley Sowash 

Featured Articles: Kim Jordan Testimony  ~ Notable Quotes ~ Sing Alleluia Devotional ~

Great Free Downloads!

New Resources for Jazz Worship!

Welcome New CJA Members!

We are very proud to add new CJA members!

Bob Barrett  is the director of instrumental music at the very popular Saddleback Church in Southern California. He is a keyboardist and arranger. Look for his books and charts on the Christian Jazz Worship page He produced and arranged,"Caliente" which is a Latin-flavored treatment of hymns with a big band sound from Saddleback Church!

Kim Jordan is a lady who wears many musical hats...keyboardist, vocalist, composer, arranger, engineer, and producer! Read more about her story in the featured article section below!

Jim Martinez is a Jazz pianist and arranger who likes to swing in the Oscar Peterson tradition! He has a series of CD's entitled, "Jazz Praise" with fresh new jazz arrangements of Hymns.

Gary Braaten is a jazz singer who sings and swings for the Lord. Check out his funky new version of, "I Have Decided To Follow Jesus"!

Also make sure that you visit the CJA page and listen to the great music all of our artists create!  We are very proud  to have so many talented Jazz artists part of the CJA!

Visit the CJA page here! 

Smooth Pizzazz Radio already ranked 20th!

Smooth Pizzazz is already ranked 20th out of 120 Jazz stations on Live 365!  Besides the United States, Canada,Japan, The Bahamas, Norway, Switzerland, Brazil, and many other countries are tuning in!

Smooth Pizzazz is an Internet Radio Station featuring Christian Jazz Artists playing jazzed up arrangements of traditional Hymns, worship choruses, and everything in between!! There are inspiring quotes and inspiring music by great Christian Jazz Artists.  Listen to it at work or at home while you work or answer e-mails! Help support the CJA and spread the word as well. Tune in--just follow the link below!

Hear Smooth Pizzazz Radio here

Coming soon! CJA Compilation CD!

We are very proud to announce our first CJA compilation CD featuring CJA members playing Jazz arrangements of Hymns! We are working very hard on getting National distribution through one of the largest retail chains in the country! The CD will also be available online so keep you ears and eyes open for it!

Staff Position Open for Jazz Worship Ministry!

Saint Peter's Church of New York, internationally known as "the Jazz Church" seeks a musician to fill the new, part-time position of Assistant Director of Music for Jazz Ministry. This person will be primarily responsible for planning, managing, and coordinating the music and musicians who lead jazz worship and other events at Saint Peter's Church. This position is budgeted at 20 hours per week. Familiarity with Christian worship and formal musical education (or its equivalent) required. Salary and benefits are negotiable. For full job description and/or to apply, contact the church office at 212-935-2200 or e-mail


Christian Jazz Worship!

Hallelujah! Jazz Revival is here!!! There is a huge increased amount of interest in using Jazz arrangements in worship! Check out the CJA Worship page for some great audio samples and resources! We have  The Jazz Hymnal, Jazz Psalms, and other great charts and resources to help you to start integrating jazz into your worship services!

Hear Christian Jazz  Worship here

New from Bill Carter and Presbybop!

"Swing A New Song To The Lord"

(Compiled by Bill Carter and the Jazz In Worship Task Force)

Here is an excellent printed collection of jazz arrangements  of congregational music from over a dozen prominent jazz composers and arrangers. This spiral-bound book includes over 170 pages of hymns, songs, and liturgical music. This new Jazz Hymnal includes nearly sixty settings of music. Included are 26 hymns, 10 psalm settings, 9 spiritual songs, and 14 pieces of worship music. Most of the music is set in an "expanded lead sheet" format, with suggestions for chord voicings and bass lines. Also included are sample jazz worship services, musical prayers, and other Jazz worship sample formats.

To order

Free CJA Downloads!
Each month we have free downloads, Mp3's, midi files, and charts. All our past newsletters and downloads are still available!
April Downloads
CjA member David Arivett's Brazilian flavored song
"People Really Matter" complete with piano/vocal score for use in a Jazz Worship Service.
""  MP3 Download
Featured Midi File Download:
" The Shadow Of Your Smile"
(These midi files are provided solely for educational purposes. You can open them up in your sequencer and follow along with the score. You can slow down the tempo for deeper analysis!)

Swing a New Song to the Lord!

Resources for Jazz Worship


Todd Billingsley

Great Jazz Hymn Arrangements for the Worship band 

Horn Charts Available!

Preview them here



 Thought provoking, yet highly singable jazz material for use in the Sanctuary!

Preview them here


Jazz Psalms

Daniel Richardson


Preview them here







CJA Compilation CD



Great collection of Jazz Hymns by CJA members!




16 classic hymns "jazzed up!




Jazz Minstry Job Opening!




The "Jazz Church" looking for assistant director of music!












Great new jazz arrangements of Hymns!



Piano & Vocal Scores




Chords provided



Sample Jazz Worship Services







Free Downloads!




Jazz Worship Music




Free Educational Jazz Midi Files!

   CJA Featured Interview With Bradley Sowash 

When did you start developing a love for Jazz music?


Bradley:  I grew up in a musical family.  My mother was a singer and my father played trumpet.  They met while playing in a big band back when jazz was popular music.  My older brothers also played.  When we were kids, we took turns playing “When The Saints Go Marching In” on a variety of instruments on Friday nights.  We didn’t know we were improvising.  We were just having fun.  Jazz is as free a music as you could ever play.

Did you study Jazz piano formally and if so where?


Bradley:  I had the standard kid piano lessons until about age 12.  This was supplemented by my brothers teaching me theory and practical stuff like how to read chord symbols.  I found a jazz teacher at age 15 but I wasn’t a very good student – typical cocky kid who thought he already knew it all.  In high school, I played in the jazz lab band and also attended a couple of jazz camps.  I majored in music composition in college rather than jazz which was a good move.  Later, when I lived in New York City, I studied with Joanne Brackeen and jammed with a lot of great musicians doing society gigs.  I’ve also read a lot of books which help to clarify things but, ultimately, jazz is an aural art form.  Musicians learn from each other both on and off the bandstand.

Who do you consider some of the main influences on your writing and playing Jazz?


Bradley:  My favorite pianists include Keith Jarrett for his inimitable technique and rich musical imagination, Oscar Peterson because he swings so,so hard, Lyle Mays for his lyrical touch, Bill Evans for his whole concept of the instrument, Egberto Gismonti for the sheer beauty of his compositions, Vince Guaraldi for his optimism... there are more.

However, my biggest influences are life experiences.  I’m more interested in the ability of music to connect with real world feelings than I am in exploring the permutations of a tetrachord or whatever. 

Other than that, I’m fascinated by what I call “America’s Musical Melting Pot.”  What is it  in spirituals, tin pan alley, the blues, shape note singing, bluegrass, ragtime, jazz, Gershwin, Copland and others that define the American sound?  I’ve been exploring that question throughout my musical life.

You have developed a Jazz worship service that you help provide at churches where you play. Can you tell us about that?


Bradley: The possibilities are endless but the goal is always to create a worship experience with a music emphasis that is welcoming, participatory and accessible to all.  In the beginning, I would collaborate with church leadership to plug my music into their existing order of worship. More and more, however, I’m being asked to create the whole service. Churches that are interested in alternative worship find that “Jazz Sunday” offers an opportunity to try new things beyond just changing the music.  Liturgical churches have less flexibility with their worship, but its still possible to revitalize the tradition.  For example, I’ve developed service music including a Sanctus, Doxology and responsorial prayers that are all jazzy but can easily sung by the congregation.  Eventually, I plan to add Glorias, Amens, and the rest to create a complete jazz mass.

I’m big on mixing participation with contemplation so all of my services include hymn singing (but with jazz accompaniment), lay readings (scripture and poetry), and prayer alongside simply listening. For example, in lieu of a sermon, I often perform jazz arrangements of hymns and spirituals interspersed with commentary connecting the music to the theme of the day.  I make it a point to emphasize inclusivity, service, gratitude and grace over judgment while trying to steer clear of actually preaching. 

How often do you get to lead a Jazz worship service? Are they more frequently in the evening ( Jazz Vespers?) Or do you get the opportunity on Sunday Morning?


Bradley:  Right now, I’m doing at least two services per month.  It slows down during the summer and major holidays when the traditional approach seems more appropriate.  I have been involved with Jazz Vespers but my preference is for Sunday mornings.  I feel that jazz is entirely appropriate for worship here in its country of origin and should not be marginalized to some sort of side affair.

I noticed that you sometimes play at churches with a trio. Any plans for a recording as a trio?


Bradley:  In the Fall, I’ll release For the Beauty of the Earth, Hymns and Spirituals for Solo Jazz Piano, Vol. 3.  After that, I’m not sure what I’ll record.  If it is with a trio or quartet, I’d like to do it live in order to capture the spontaneous energy of improvising musicians.  I’m also interested in documenting my choral arrangements.  Who can say for sure?  Of course the incentive to continue recording gets lower every year with file sharing, CD burning and dropping prices.  It’s getting harder and harder to recover the costs involved.  That’s one reason I’ve focused on solo recordings – no musicians to pay.

I also noticed that you are going to be providing Jazz Choral arrangements so choirs can participate when you do Jazz Worship at churches. Are you writing the arrangements? Will these be made available so others can use these arrangements at churches abroad?


Bradley:  I started writing choral arrangements so the choir would have something to do when I came to their church as a visiting artist.  A few months back, I made them available on my website and they have been selling well.  I’m interested in pursuing much more choral writing.  My pieces can’t be learned in 30 minutes on a Thursday night but its worth the extra effort when the congregation sits up and reacts to the syncopated rhythm.

 You do Jazz Workshops at churches as well. Tell us a little about that.


Bradley:  Actually the workshops are geared towards larger gatherings such as denominational conventions and regional annual meetings rather than individual churches.  My most popular workshop is “Where Two or More Are Gathered; A Workshop in Alternative Worship Strategies.”  I’ve also led sessions on “How To Organize A Jazz Worship Service.”  Every denomination has a church musician’s network.  I teach Improvisation Master Classes and a hands-on program called “Moving Beyond Classical Styles For Church Musicians” at their meetings.

Share with us your most memorable Jazz Worship service at a church and why.


Bradley:  There’s been so many.  Expectant congregations provide the perfect performance setting because they invite in the Spirit.  And when it comes, watch out!  More than once, I’ve had to dab my eye while playing or speaking.  That never happens in jazz clubs or bars.  American hymnody is such a rich tradition.  I don’t arrange hymns and spirituals because I play in churches.  I play in churches because I love the music.

Do you find a spiritual connection in playing and writing music? Some writers consider the creative process to be a gift from the Creator and feel the spiritual connection very strong while writing music. What are your thoughts concerning this?


Bradley:  I think it’s true that creativity does sometimes seem to flow through rather than come from the individual artist.  It’s a real high to be in the moment with ideas coming as faster than you can struggle to capture them.  However, for the non-creating lay person, this description of creativity is misleading.  It suggests that composers simply turn on the juice and music comes out.  Actually, it’s after the inspiration that the real work begins.  Quality music doesn’t happen by accident.  Rather, it results from applied craftsmanship and patient attention to the details.  This is as true for composing as it is for improvising in which all of the learned responses of a performer must come to play spontaneously.  I always say anybody can have great ideas.  The difference between “anybody” and the  “artist” is that artists bother to take the necessary pains to bring their ideas to fruition.

You also spend quite a bit of time as a Jazz Educator, both in schools and even recently on the National television music educational series, “ The Piano Guy”. Share with us more about your Jazz Workshop programs and more details concerning the television series.


Bradley:  I’m interested in giving young musicians the opportunity to learn from each other like when I used to jam with my family.  That’s why I started the Jazz Workshop.  On Friday nights, student musicians are coached by professional musicians in small jazz combos where every instrument counts and no one can hide.  Every now and then, we perform a concert.  I also offer a Summer Jazz, Improvisation & Theory Intensive in which students can bone up on the inner workings of music for a week in July.  More information is available at

 The Piano Guy is new 13 part PBS series in which the host, Scott Houston picks the brains of professional pianists for tips and secrets.  I’m on the third program.  The show combines a how-to format with entertainment.  On This Old House, you watch Norm show off his craft by building a cabinet.  The Piano Guy lets you hear and see how professional pianists approach  their musical constructions.  The website is

How do you promote all these great things you are doing? Do you have a booking agent?


Bradley: I do it all myself.  Sometimes I feel more like a manager than a musician.  Right now, I spend way too much time at the computer and not enough time composing or practicing.  Occasionally, I hire an assistant to handle marketing duties like stuffing envelopes or contacting presenters.

What advice can you give the Christian Jazz Artist who wants to start doing Jazz worship services, workshops, or concerts? How do they obtain engagements?


Bradley: Go to a church that is known for visionary programming or a willingness to take risks.  As the preacher to give you a shot and then deliver a real worship service.  Jazz worship can be wonderful or awful.  Someone once told me, “We had a jazz service but it felt weird to take communion while listening to “Girl From Impanema.”  That wasn’t a jazz service.  It was just somebody playing their Saturday night stuff on a Sunday morning.   Create a liturgy with an eye towards worship rather than personal acclaim, and you’ll be blessed.  Also, don’t be afraid to groove and swing.  If a piece is meditative, play it reverently.  But if it is supposed to be a celebration, let it rip! 

You recently announced that you will begin offering downloads on a “pay per song” basis on your personal web site. Do you see this method of obtaining music the future for purchasing music?


Bradley:  I do have a few free downloads available on my website but my entrance into digital distribution has been through the big players like Apple iTunes and others.  My accounts with these companies were arranged by CDBaby [] which offers a lot of useful services to independent musicians. 

I have no idea about the future of music retail.  CDs comprise the majority of my sales perhaps because my listeners are older and too busy to surf or learn to download.  It might be different if I were playing in a rock style.

What is your favorite church hymn and why?


Bradley: I really can’t name just one. Spirituals such as ”Wade In The Water” or “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” lend themselves to jazz because they already swing.  Folk hymns such as “Wayfaring Stranger” or “Beach Spring” are absolutely haunting.  I’m mostly drawn to anonymous tunes. Their durability is intriguing.  Generations of handing down new renditions have reduced them to their essential qualities.  They are indestructible like an onion that you throw in the compost bin in the Fall only to find it sprouting in the Spring.  For example, “Amazing Grace” sounds great whether it is performed as a waltz, a shuffle, on bagpipes, piano, you name it...  A tune with this much ‘essence’ offers the arranger plenty of leeway and listeners, because they know the tune so well, can appreciate the variations.  


Featured Articles


Accident inspires singer to veer into ''gospel jazz''
By David Burke - GO! Editor


     Eight years ago, Kim Jordan's Jazz career was on an uphill trek. The jazz singer/pianist had all of her possessions packed in a U-Haul, moving from Washington, D.C., to New York City, to further promote and expand her career.

With a friend along in the vehicle, the 8-foot truck hit a 6 1/2-foot overpass. “My whole face and everything slammed into the steering wheel,” she said.

Her passenger was uninjured, and Jordan thought she was able to escape damage as well — until she was diagnosed with a head injury. She sat down to the piano, and nothing happened. “All the information that was in my head wouldn’t translate to my hand,” said Jordan, 42.

Already a jazz performer playing alongside Gil Scott Heron, Roberta Flack and Stevie Wonder, Jordan had to teach herself to play all over again. It took three years — including a five-hour-a-day, six-day-a-week stint at a piano bar in Europe — but her talents eventually returned. But it changed her forever.

“That changed my focus on life,” Jordan said in a telephone interview from her home in Washington. “Before, I was just an arrogant kind of purpose. Now I have focus and meaning. I believe that’s the purpose for my life. Everybody has a purpose and everybody has meaning in their life. There’s a reason why everyone is here. “If God didn’t want you here, you certainly wouldn’t be here.”

It also changed the tone of her music, and moved it to a gospel jazz sound that can be heard in the first of a smooth jazz series debuting Friday night at the Quad-City Botanical Gardens in Rock Island. Her gratitude to God for her recovery is reflected in the sound.

 “That is the whole main focus of why I do gospel jazz now,” she said. “I know that it’s a miracle that I’m playing again, a complete miracle. I thought I would be teaching, and just the thought of teaching — not that teaching is a bad thing — would mean I would never want to play. I was determined to play.”

The accident also was the impetus for Jordan to begin producing other performers, as well as serving as a composer, arranger and engineer. “My passion is all of them at different times,” she said. “There are times I really like to play and there are times I really like production.”

Jordan’s work behind the scenes has limited the number of times she performs, but she’s grateful for the chances she gets there. “The gigs I’ve had have been really good, but I’ve been able to pick and choose,” she said.

Her music is a mixture of original gospel music and secular jazz arrangements — she’s particularly noted for a jazz arrangement of the theme to “The Andy Griffith Show.”

“The music that comes out of me is so eclectic and so all-over-the-place at times,” she said. “But it’s all who I am.” Neither her jazz playing or her gospel playing come from the standard repertoires for the genre, Jordan said.

 The music does come from the responsibility she feels after what she believes could have been her last day on earth. “I should have been dead, and I’m not dead. I’m talking to you about the goodness of God,” she said. “That’s very real to me.”

*( Kim Jordan has recently became a CJA member and you can hear her music on the CJA page )


Notable Quotes!

“ blues-beset as life may be the real secret is somehow to make life swing, to survive by staying in the groove.”  Ralph Ellison

"The beauty of God's work in creation is only augmented by the awesome beauty He continues to display through us in the many nuances of this incredible music called Jazz! When we play our instruments...we are in fact conversing, bearing witness to His awesome creative power! The musical language that we speak, refined through years of hard work and pursuit of excellence, we speak with hearts overflowing with gratitude and awe"! Kirk Whalum


Let me be…. observant of the perpetual miracle of life and love on this fragment of a star flung across the infinity of space; appreciative of earth’s symphony of color, harmony of shape, and ubiquity of beauty…to every intimation of divinity in the lives around me…

Let me be…tuned in to all the varied music of the world: to man-made melodies, and to the songs of wind and water, insect and bird…the "still, sad music of humanity": the falling of human tears, the anguish wrenched from human hearts…

Let me be…receptive to unfamiliar thoughts, to strange viewpoints, and brand-new ideas, making doubly certain to give fair hearing to all that challenges my complacency, my prejudgments, my unexamined assumptions.  Arthur Foote


Sing Alleluia Devotional

When in our music God is glorified,
And adoration leaves no room for pride,
It is as though the whole creation cried:
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

Music is God's creation. In Luther's words, music "comes from the sphere of miraculous audible things, just like the word of God." In response to the gifts of God, we see nothing but God's love for us and for the world he created and therefore we rejoice and sing.

How oft, in making music, we have found
A new dimension in the world of sound,
As worship moved us to a more profound
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

Just as fine architecture, beautiful windows and glowing candles can hush the noises and dim the glare of our busy world reminding us that we are in the house of God, so music can communicate and express in ways that are beyond our words and our senses. Music can capture our imaginations and lead us into the mysteries of God and his gracious will. For Luther, music was a practical art, closely tied to theology, to be used in the praise of God and in the proclamation of the Word. When music is cultivated at the highest levels of artistic excellence, the perfect goodness and wisdom of God are displayed through this marvelous gift.  Music is an essential part of our life together. Music breathes the spirit of the world in which we live, and speaks to us of emotions and thoughts which are close to our daily experiences. Through music we express human emotion in the light of God's word.

Join with us, as we celebrate our common faith and sing unto the Lord a new song.

Let every instrument be tuned for praise;
Let all rejoice who have a voice to raise;
And may God give us faith to sing always:
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!   (LBW 555)

      (Sing Alleluia reprinted from St. Peters Lutheran Church statement on worship found on their web site. )



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