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Welcome to the Christian Jazz Artists Newsletter!
February 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  ~ 

Welcome five new CJA members!

Todd Billingsley... is a keyboardist, arranger, and composer. He is a part of the group, "Causeway", who put their contemporary spin of jazz, samba, guajira, and even a little mambo with favorite hymns of yesterday. Todd also has his own Worship resource company Resources 4 Worship He has all the great charts from the Causeway CD's available as well as many other great worship resources!

Gary Hallquist... is the Assistant Professor of Worship Ministries at the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Gary plays the saxophone, clarinet, and flute, and has two Masters degrees. Gary has a new jazz quartet, "220" and they are working on a new CD as well as working on being the house band of a Christian Coffee House in the French Quarter in New Orleans!

Daniel a pianist/composer as well as the musical director of Jazz Vespers. Jazz Vespers is... a mix of poetry, prayer, and live jazz. Held in a coffee house, it's specially formulated for people on a spiritual quest who are uncomfortable in a traditional church service. Jazz Vespers invites everyone present into prayerful wondering about the mysteries of life and God. Each week Dan uses his musical gifts by performing music that blends Gospel and R& B with Jazz that has spiritual impact!  

Eric a songwriter, producer, worship leader, and keyboardist. As a songwriter, Eric has placed songs on albums across the US, and as an artist, he has released several CDs. But his greatest calling is that of a producer, speaker and author, and works with church musicians and artists to help them grow their music ministries. Eric has been part of hundreds of recording projects and music ministries across the US, and overseas.

Ric Flauding...Composer-Guitarist Ric Flauding's music features classical guitar with various ensembles. He calls his style "acoustic, melodic new age" which colorfully blends influences from many sources. Jazz, Celtic, Latin, Folk, Cinematic Symphonic, Worldbeat and Classical all find their way into his work. Ric's goal is to paint emotion pictures sounding his love for God, people, nature, travel, serenity and simplicity. As a performing artist Ric and his band have shared the stage with Bob James, Richard Elliot and Rick Braun.

Make sure that you visit the CJA page and listen to the great music these Artists create! We are very proud to have them be a part of the CJA!

Fresh Winds are blowing over the changes!


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


Smooth Pizzazz Radio now on the air!

Songs Of David now has a 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. Please spread the word about this new station...get yourself some decent speakers hooked up to your computer because this is being broadcast at CD quality!

Tune in--just follow the link below!

Hear Smooth Pizzazz Radio here

Featuring... Alex Acuna, Kirk Whalum, Pat Coil, Chuck Marohnic, David Arivett, Todd Billingsley, David Diggs, George Furlow, Eric Copeland, Bradley Sowash, Dean Mills, Daniel Richardson, Rhonda Mcoy, Ric Flauding, John Carlson, Gary Hallquist, Kiks, James Ranka, Ray Lyon and a great collection of all the best Jazz recordings from artists like Bob James, Jeff Lorber, Rob Mullins, Tower Of Power, Chick Corea,  Weather Report, YellowJackets, Ed Calle, Spyro Gyra, Joe Sample, David Sanborn, Marcus Miller, Tom Scott, Arturo Sandoval, Pat Metheny, and just too many others to list 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! This CD will contain an awesome variety of hymns. Some songs are funky, some are mellow, some have a Latin feel, and some have great horns blowin'!  We are shooting for a early spring release!! The CD will be available online so keep you ears and eyes open for it!

Free CJA Download!
CJA Guitarist Michael Ripoll
(Guitarist for Kirk Whalum)
Michael has a new CD and you can get it here




Todd Billingsley

Great Jazz Hymn Arrangements for the Worship band 

Horn Charts Available!


Jazz Psalms

Daniel Richardson




We Shall Overcome

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
















   CJA Featured Interview With Michael Ripoll

   Featured Article "Ego And The Church Musician"

1) When did you start developing a love for Jazz music?  When I was about 15.
2) Did you study Jazz formally and if so where?  At 'Dillard of the Performing Arts' High school in Ft. Lauderdale, FL.... as well as many private teachers from NY, & FL.
3) Who do you consider some of the main influences on your writing and
Mike Stern, Pat Methany, Al Dimeola, Frank Gambale, Allan Holdsworth, George Benson, Paco DeLucia, Larry Carlton, Wes Montgomery, Andre Segovia, Christopher Parkening....the list goes on & on!
4) Do you find opportunities for playing jazz as a Christian Jazz Artist
starting to open up more?
Jazz music for Christians - no. Music for everybody that is played by Christians - yes. I think it's important to remember that it's our duty to go out in the world and be a witness for Christ through the music he has blessed us with.
5) Tell us about playing music with Kirk Whalum? Are you playing "live" with
him , recording, or both?
  I have been playing live with Kirk for about 5 years and recording with him for about 2 years. I played a few tunes on his new CD, "Into My Soul", as well as his whole Christmas CD, "The Christmas Message". He is an absolute pleasure to work for and with. He is soooooo generous and selfless. He has supported me and my career tremendously, which is obvious from the CD he produced for me, "Discovery Anew". He lives the message that he preaches on a daily basis. Whether you see him at a "4 a.m. lobby call" on the road, at Church, on stage, (even more importantly, back stage), or any where else, you will always get the same Godly, joy filled man.
6) You have a new CD release of your own, " Discovery Anew". Tell us more
about that project.
Well, it is a dream come true and a total blessing from God. Like I said, Kirk made this project a reality for me. It is a mixture of smooth 'R&B' influenced jazz, Cuban/Latin grooves, and flamenco guitar.
7) There are some tunes on your new CD that have a distinct Latin
influence.  Share with us where that influence comes from.
My father is Cuban, so the Latin music flows in the veins. Without sounding cliché, Latin music is the epitome of passion & romance. I love Cuban music, and I love Flamenco. Both are huge passions of mine!!!!
8) 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?
Absolutely!!!!! Music is a direct gift from God Himself! Anything that can move the human emotion like music does, has got to be a divine gift. And yes, I do feel that God impregnates me with musical melodies and ideas.
9) What has been your most challenging project that you have ever worked on? Definitely my CD. Because you have to learn how to let go and not be a producer but an artist. Basically you have to walk into the studio and be willing to just play and let everyone do their jobs accordingly.
10) Do you ever get to play your guitar in church? If so tell us a little
about that.
Yes & I love it! It's all about you, your axe and the Lord!
11) How do you feel about the new worship music being produced today? If it induces a spirit of worship for whatever age demo graph it's targeted for, then by all means, it has served its purpose.
12) What is your favorite church hymn and why? That Old Rugged Cross. Because my Dad sang it all the time when he first got saved.
14) What are 5 of your most favorite Jazz CD's. (if you had to choose just 5
which ones would they be?)
Kind OF Blue - Miles Davis, Full House - Wes Montgomery, Giant Steps & Ballads - John Coltrane, Bright Sized Life - Pat Methany.
15) Out of all the songs you have ever heard or played is there one song
that has really touched you in a profound way?
Not just one that stands out but perhaps it's more of a feeling that occurs when your with a certain group of players or a certain time of seclusion with your instrument. Utopia as musicians know it is sometimes achieved when your practicing your technique routine, or a book of Etudes.....
16) What future goals do you have planned for yourself as a artist and a
? My goal as an artist is to be able to bring the music to the people. Yes, we have to go through agents, managers, labels, etc.....but the bottom line is to bring the music that God gave me to the public at whatever means necessary.
My goals as a person, to pursue "Christ likeness" in order that I might be able to bless others on a continual basis.
17) What is one of your favorite Bible verses: Matt 6:33
"Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you. Don not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."


Ego And The Church Musician

I can still hear the Senior Pastor’s words ringing in my ears! He was on a roll about church musicians and worship leaders. He said, “These worship leaders and musicians think that the church is totally built around them!” “They are so ego-driven and self-absorbed that I can’t even stand to be around them!!” “ And temperamental…. whew!!!

Maybe you have heard similar words from the mouths of other pastors or people in general. There seems to be a consensus among people that artists and musicians in general are more egotistical and temperamental than people in other professions and walks of life. And here in America with our obsession for “celebrity superstars” certainly a case can be made that artists, musicians, entertainers, and actors certainly seem to fit the description of being ‘ego-driven’ and self-absorbed! Here is where I am going to possibly shock you with a question… is being ego-driven really all that bad? Please stay with me while I try to provide some fresh insight into this subject.

If you are a musician go back in your memory banks to the time where you first started developing your musical gifts. If you started young your first fans were probably your mother or dad! Can you remember how much those first words of praise meant to you? Maybe you started singing in the children’s choir at church, or perhaps you sang a solo or played an instrumental. And then the good folks at the church started heaping praise on you. Words like, “ How talented you are, or how very gifted, ect! ” Words that soaked in and made you feel very special. Can you remember how good it felt to receive a special word of praise about yourself and your budding talent? Then maybe your music teachers at school helped feed you swelling ego or you started gaining recognition from your circle of friends that you were “ A  Musician!” All these people were helping to motivate you by making you feel very special.

You might ask,” well what’s your point?” My point is that one of the primary reasons you were motivated to keep on developing your musical gifts is because it made you feel very special! And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that! As human beings we all need to feel like we are “very special”!

I would in fact go further and say that throughout our lives we are constantly looking to feed that need by obtaining approval from others! We are all born with this need for approval. In fact throughout your life you will continue to look for praise and approval.

You see, God has simply made us to be that way. We need the affirmation and encouragement of other people. Whether you are musician or not there is a deep underlying need in all of us to feel that we are significant creatures. We really need to know that we are important to other people and to God. There is a profound quote by A.M. Thornburn who once said,   

"All the genuine, deep delight of life is in showing people the mud-pies you have made; and life is at its best when we confidingly recommend our mud-pies to each other's sympathetic consideration".

We were made to share our ‘mudpies’ with one another, and getting positive affirmation from one another is vitally important!

Furthermore, no athlete, musician, or actor would go very far without a healthy ego! It’s okay to feel good when people compliment you and heap praise on you about your talent. There is scripture that commands us to love and encourage one another, to give honor to whom honor is due. This is all a part of “loving your neighbor as yourself’!

But there is a tremendous difference between a healthy ego and an arrogant attitude. Here is a barometer you can use to tell when arrogance has superseded a healthy ego. It is when a person begins thinking he is more special than others. He begins to be filled with pride and views everything from a lofty, exalted position. Then a person begins demanding personal praise from others after every performance or worship leading experience. He has become intoxicated and addicted to the praise of others because of his inflated view of himself. And then the whole central teaching of Jesus concerning equality and treating one another with love and mutual respect gets thrown out the window.

The person who falls into this trap is usually totally blinded by his arrogant attitude. He thinks he is great…others are not so great. It happens subtly and catches artists unaware. There is a theatrical term aptly called, “upstaging”. It is where an actor gets out of his proper place on stage and moves right in front of the leading person so that the audience cannot see or hear the most important one in the cast. Many musicians become addicted and intoxicated by the approval and praise of others. We become obsessed with our talents and abilities. Many become obsessed and begin clamoring and clawing for attention at almost any cost! How many of us church musicians have become excessively arrogant and believe that we are more the most important players on the field? Even further, might we be “upstaging” God?

In the book of Genesis there is found what I feel is some of the most profound words ever written. In Genesis the Bible says that we are all made in his image! Wow! How can you top that? What can you ever do or achieve in this life that can upstage that? Who’s approval can make you feel more special than God’s own stamp of approval? The fact that we are all made in God’s image levels everything on the playing field! In the most diverse way we are all a reflection of God’s design! Our creativity and musical gifts all come from Him! How can one honestly look down on another person after that realization? After the personal example of humility displayed by Jesus and His teachings how can we who call ourselves His followers become controlled and dominated by pride?

Part of the answer to that question can be found in the superstar world that we live in today. Where Christian musicians and worship leaders are forced to buy into media and marketing hype to make a name for themselves. But unfortunately in order to market and position oneself as an artist today you have to start using the “I’m extraordinary\your not” approach and this runs contrary to the Bible’s words that we are equally made in God’s image. God says we are all somebody, that there is no such thing as nobodies!

Let me leave you with the words of one of the great theologians of the 20th Century, Francis Schaeffer. He once preached a sermon entitled,” No Little People, No Little Places”. The central point to his sermon was that with God, there are no little people or no little places! As a church musician, singer, or artist, the call and challenge is to begin to view yourself and everyone else as somebody because we are all made and specifically designed in God’s image. Let that be the thought that builds your ego and keeps you ever humble. Remember, you are a privileged recipient of God’s precious gift of life and a reflection of His image!

  The old Quaker hymn says it this way:

  “It’s a gift to be simple

It’s a gift to be free

It’s a gift to come down

To where you ought to be!”

Written by David Arivett

ÓCopyright 2002

Songs Of David

  *I highly recommend two books that cover this subject in much greater detail. One is, “Effortless Mastery” by Kenny Werner, (an accomplished Jazz pianist) who illustrates very well how a musicians ego hinders one from becoming a better musician both technically and professionally! It is published by Jamey Aebersold Jazz.

  *The second book is entitled, The Heart Of The Artist”, by Rory Noland, (Zondervan Publishing) and covers the Christian Artist, his ego, and spiritual applications very well.


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