David Jazz Links
News & Noteworthy!
Welcome to New CJA members!
Pianist Chuck Mahronic,
Vocalist Rhonda Mcoy, and Saxophonist George Furlow!
We are very excited to welcome three new CJA members! Pianist Chuck
Mahronic is an incredible pianist, arranger, and writer! He has
recorded over 24 Cd's and has been a pioneer in using Jazz music in
Rhonda Mcoy is an inspired
songwriter, worship leader and vocalist are just a few ways to
describe Rhonda McCoy. Rhonda skillfully blends
contemporary worship and smooth jazz in her latest CD project .
Saxophonist George Furlow is a
very gifted Sax player and musician! He has played on many popular
worship CD's, including Ron Kenoly, Bob Fitts, and many other
Make sure you check out their
music on the CJA page!
Smooth Pizzazz Radio!
Smooth Jazz with Pizzazz! A radio program featuring Christian
WANTED!! Jazz Worship
favorite Jazz Worship song recording and chart. Songs Of David is
adding a Jazz Worship page that will feature recordings and charts
of favorite songs with a jazz flavor used in a worship setting. If
you have a recording, lead sheet, or know of one you would recommend
please e-mail us the info!
you visited the Songs Of David Jazz Ed page? There is instructional
material from some of the very top names in Jazz including Rob Mullins,
Tony Monaco, Dave Weckl, Jay Oliver and many others. CJA member Chuck
Marohnic's "Jazz Hymns" is our most recent addition
so make sure and check it
This months CJA
CD favorites is provided by Keyboardist/Composer James Ranka.
When I was asked for my top 5 favorite
jazz albums, I was most happy to share how I ‘cut my musical
teeth’ throughout my formative years. I have always
been more attracted to the artists who changed the mundane
musical landscape in the 1970’s; groups and individuals who
incorporated R&B, rock and Jazz in their writing and
production. Call it jazz-fusion; pop jazz, melodic jazz…
many labels exist. So please keep the above in mind as I
list my 5 favorite “jazz” albums. We’re all unique in our
tastes; our likes and dislikes. So…here goes:
1) “The Nightfly”, by Donald Fagen;
released 1982 on Rhino Records.
An incredible album composed by an
incredible talent. The singing half of Steely Dan wrote and
arranged music that began to influence my future
compositions with this albums’ release. Tasteful, unique
harmonies; impeccable engineering; the best studio players
of the day all made for an incredible production.
2) Chicago VII, released 1974,
Produced By: James William Guercio
Forget the commercial songs “Wishing You
Were Here” and “I’ve Been Searchin”. The incredible jazz
talent of the original group shines through on the
instrumental cuts: “Aire”, “Devil’s Sweet”, “Italian From
New York” and “Mongonucleosis”. I happened to be living in
Austin, Texas when this album was released and was
privileged to see and hear this gifted group play ALL of the
instrumentals live at the Austin Convention Center.
Guitarist, Terry Kath, who took his life later in a game of
Russian roulette, would, in all likelihood, have become a
world-renowned jazz guitarist if not for the demons that
destroyed him. While he was with the group, his virtuosity
and originality was drawing attention in pop, jazz and rock
genres. Jazz drummer, Buddy Rich, said of then-Chicago
drummer, Danny Seraphine, “He’s simply the best”. A super
group; never fully appreciated for their genius.
3) “Freetime”, By Spyro Gyra,
A well-structured melody played against
interesting harmonic change represents the essence of ‘pop
jazz’. Spyro Gyra was and is THE group whose compositions
reflected this knowledge. As a result, Spyro Gyra became a
crossover sensation. As a keyboardist, my ear just naturally
gravitates toward the piano or the keyboard instrument: Not
in this case.The guitar riffs that Julio Fernandez imagined
and so skillfully printed to tape were near perfection. His
note bends and funky rhythmic chops captivated my ear over
keyboardist, Tom Schuman. Schuman’s improvisational style is
an original. So much an original, I can, in most cases,
recognize a Schuman solo.
4) “Blood, Sweat and Tears”, By Blood
Sweat and Tears, released 1969.
An emotional roller coaster brought about
by incredible feeling coupled with instrumentation
variation. I listened to this album time and time again. To
this day, I have yet to tire of the music.What can one say
in describing the voice of David Clayton Thomas? His comment
after recording “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy”, “It was one
of those songs where I flew into New York and it was the
first thing I recorded with the group. We walked out of the
recording studio and every band member knew we’d just cut a
hit record. It was magic from the first note to the
last.”More magic came later with their version of “Fire and
Rain” (not a part of this album). If you can find this
version – download it! It’s an amazing arrangement. Every
member of this super group was a great jazz player in his
5) “Earth Wind and Fire: Live in
Japan”, Released 1990
One word describes this awesome
production – ENERGY!
Every song on this ‘captured live’ CD
represents compositional genius, positive, uplifting lyrics,
incomparable live playing, tightness that should be heard to
be believed. This CD represents all that is good about music
from the band members’ individual virtuosity to the mixing
and final mastering.
Maurice White, the group’s founder, is a
producer on the level of Quincy Jones. White’s musical
genius is apparent in songs like “That’s the Way Of The
World”, “Serpentine Fire”…many, many others. “Be Ever
Wonderful” is a contemporary arrangement of a jazz torch
song that could be arranged in many different ways. The lead
singer’s voice cracked at a crucial point in the song – but
Maurice White decided to let the mistake reside in the burn.
This IS a live concert, folks. The vocal mistake, the horn
arrangements, vocal motifs and a cool 6/8 time signature
make this my favorite song on the CD.
The Free Mp3
downloads this month is " Three Jazz/Blues " offerings with three
wonderful and very different offerings from Chick Corea and others!
These downloads are provided for study and educational purposes and the
midi files have notation of all the parts to follow along with to
facilitate learning! Take advantage of these resources!
Don't miss out on these great
Here is the link:
CJA Interview with Chuch
About age 14. The kid who
lived across the street was a tenor player and into jazz. He was
cool, or so I thought. He even had a component stereo system; really
ahead of the rest of us. He turned me on to Horace Silver, Art Blakey,
1) When did you start developing a love for Jazz
2) Did you study Jazz formally and if so where?
No. I learned "on the
street" as they say by playing with musicians and later in clubs.
Years later, I studied music in college, not jazz but then began a
systematic study of jazz. After a time, I began to compare my
findings with others in education. I later went on to become Director
of Jazz Studies at Arizona State University for 23 years where I
recently retired. In all my years of teaching, I have always tried to
give some of the "street" experience to the students. I believe
that's essential. Nothing like human interaction.
3) Who do you consider some of the main influences on
your writing and playing of jazz?
Wayne Shorter, Miles, Bill
Evans, Herbie Hancock, Monk and more.
4) What are 5 of your most favorite Jazz CD's. (if you
had to choose just 5 which ones would they be?)
Miles - Kind of Blue (a must
have CD for all musicians), Bill Evans - Vanguard Sessions, Joe
Henderson - Lush Life, Coltane - A Love Supreme and Miles - Live at
the Plugged Nickel. All of these are incredible recordings but there
are more, or course.
5) Tell us about the 11:00 AM Jazz worship
service you and your quintet play for? What instruments are involved?
The 11am service is called
the Studio. It is a jazz-based, multi-sensory church service that we
jokingly refer to as "church for people who don't like church". We
use all the arts and integrate them into weekly thematic material. it
is an extremely challenging and creative atmosphere. The pastor and
associate pastor are two young, talented, bright people who celebrate
the arts. Twice a month we have what we call Gospel Jazz where we get
down with hard grooves and feel good music coming from the black
experience. Once a month we have my jazz trio with a vocalist and
once a month we have Chamber Jazz. This is an opportunity for me to
write and arrange for a variety of guest artists from the jazz
community both locally and internationally. Normally I use a jazz
quartet with a vocalist, however, sax, piano, bass and drums.
6) What kind of audience comes to the 11:00 Jazz
service and how much participation do you get from the congregation?
What is the average age of the people that gather for the service?
The congregation is varied.
It cuts across all lines, young and old, multi-cultural, etc. The
one thing they all share is a love for the Studio experience. Once
someone experiences this service and like it, they are hooked and
can't go back to traditional services. I try to involve the
congregation in varied ways from traditional hymn type singing with
jazz arrangements of course, to jazz raps, trading 4's or 8's with the
band, etc. We'll try anything. The main thing is to involve the
congregation with the music so they feel a part of the music making
7) Where do you get the material you play at this
service? Hymns, original music, or what?
From all sorts of places.
Fake books for secular music that addresses thematic material, church
hymnals where I usually reharnonize and original compositions.
8) It seems as though there is an
increased interest in using Jazz in worship. Are there other churches
doing this that you know of?
Yes. I recently attended a
conference at Stony Point, NY called Jazz in the Church. Rev. Bill
Carter, Presbyterian minister and jazz pianist started this a few
years back. I met many musicians there who are bringing jazz into the
worship experience. One of the main features of my ministry is to
bring jazz musicians and their music into the church.
9) You have recently published the "Jazz
Hymnal". Please share with us more about the contents of that book.
Jazz Hymnal contains original songs along with jazz arrangements of
traditional hymns. The book contains about 50 arrangements, mostly
keyboard, but with some horn parts. It is designed to act as a
supplement to the library of a working church musician. Once someone
gets into the book, they begin to see things that they can do with
other music and hopefully create their own arrangements.
10) Do you find a spiritual connection in playing
jazz music? What are your thoughts concerning this?
Definitely. I believe that God has given
each of us a way to connect with him. For musicians, it is music.
Once we get past the fundamental obstacles of playing an instrument
an begin to experience the music, we become faced with the
responsibilities of playing with others and sharing musical
ideas. The more we do this and the more we open ourselves we
eventually come face to face with the Creator. I believe that one
cannot be a creative individual without coming into contact with the
Creator. And when that happens, all I can say is.....hold on. It
just gets more profound and humbling.
11) What is it about Jazz music that you love so much?
puts me into the present moment, when I allow it and get out of the
way. It is in the present moment that we find God, not in the past or
12) What is your favorite church hymn and why?
Amazing Grace for it's great
melody, lyrics and its simplicity and transparency. All great music
has these qualities that allow for endless interpretation.
13) Are you working on any new CD projecst of your own?
Tell us a little about some of the Cd's you have recorded.
At present, I have a new
band and am writing new music. The musicians are all great players
who also write. We are looking into many new things and hope to have
a recording completed within a year. I have to date, recorded close
to 30 CDs that vary from solo piano to a Jazz Nonet (nine piece band).
I have recorded for major labels and with great people but most of
what I do now is church oriented.
14) What has been the most challenging project that you
have ever worked on?
Learning how to let go and
let God do the work.
16) What future goals do you have planned for
yourself as a artist and a person?
I try not to think of goals. For
most of my life, I was goal oriented, always planning something or
some project to work on, but since I have retired and have taken
myself out of the working mode, I just try to offer each day to the
Lord and try to be open to His marvelous gifts.
Birth Of a Jazz Ministry
Seven Deadly Sins Church Musicians Make
Another Year To Be
of a Jazz Ministry
By Bradley Sowash
the Fall of 1998, I approached a church in Columbus, Ohio with a new
fund-raising concept. I was looking for a way to combine my vocation as
a jazz musician with activism through a church hosted benefit concert.
I'd heard that this parish had a history of outreach missions and a
reputation for incorporating liturgical arts into their worship so it
seemed like a likely venue.
turned out, they loved the idea. A date was set and we determined that
the proceeds would help fulfill their commitment to B.R.E.A.D, a
coalition of area churches working on local social justice issues. The
church provided the performance space and a decent piano. Their
promotional support included announcements in their bulletins and
newsletter, posting my flyers, and plenty of healthy networking among
friends and family. My contribution included playing in their Sunday
morning service during communion and the offertory to introduce the
congregation to my music and style. That evening, I performed a
customized range of piano music from original meditative music to joyful
reinterpretations of familiar hymns. I thought to myself..."my
compensation lies in helping out a great cause and attracting new fans
that I might never have met."
concept worked. The first concert was successful and mutually beneficial
by all accounts. A substantial turnout resulted in raising $800 for
B.R.E.A.D. and the church's decision to temporarily become a concert
presenter enhanced and confirmed its' visionary reputation. I was
pleased that combining family entertainment with fund-raising for a
deserving organization had proven to fill seats and make money. People
told us they were more willing to attend the event due to the benefit
factor. After the concert, I heard comments such as, "I wasn't sure I'd
like this, but I thought I'd come anyway since it was for a good cause.
I'm sure glad I did. What a great concert and a great idea."
weeks later, they invited me to bring my music to the Sunday morning
experience. Working with volunteer church musicians, a hired soloist,
and a specially -created liturgy, we presented our first jazz worship
service. The place was packed, we had a great time, and the church
leaders decided to make it a monthly event. Now in its fifth year, these
jazz worship services are often their most highly attended services.
Through these experiences, I began to consider sharing my music in other
church services and concerts. I’d found a new kind of ministry which I
was interested in expanding. The word got out and I began to get calls
from out of town saying, "add our name to the list of supporters who
really love your music!"
Columbus clergyman accepted a new position in Buffalo, NY, he asked me
to perform for his installation service later adding a full-scale
concert. The organizer of a concert to benefit a church-based drug
recovery center in Seattle inspired me to go further through warm
remarks with a thank-you letter. "Our cathedral has been the site
for a whole range of excellent musical presentations, and your jazz
concert opened our audience to a whole new musical experience in this
historical space. The quality of your work and the expression in your
playing made the evening you were with us one that will be remembered
and commented upon for years to come. It was truly breathtaking!”
support continued. A jazz worship service and benefit concert at a
cathedral in Minneapolis led to these comments. "I want to thank you
for everything you did and all that you brought to us last Sunday at St.
Mark's -- the whole community has been absolutely floating since then...
It looks like we did quite well with the fundraiser. Money's still
coming in, but last I checked, at least $10,000 had come in. I hope we
will be able to work together in the future. Thanks for all your
willingness, openness, and for sharing your special gifts with us."
Looking out from the piano for that evening’s concert, I was flattered
to see that renowned jazz singer Bobby McFerrin had decided to attend.
my jazz ministries have expanded from jazz worship services and sacred
concerts to include guest speaker and workshop leader appearances at
church conferences. As a pianist and composer, all of this inevitably
influenced my music. Seeking a musical style that combined jazz with
sacred music, I set about creating new arrangements which were
eventually released on subsequent recordings with companion volumes of
sheet music published by Augsburg Fortress Press.
These are just some of the blessed events
I've enjoyed since beginning this concept. Church appearances now
outnumber my ‘secular’ concert schedule. I'm performing more often,
serving through my music and helping out good causes. It feels great!
© 2001 Bradley
Sins Church Musicians Make -
and How to Avoid Them
by Chuck Marohnic
Deadly Sin #1: Depending
too much on written music
This is a frequent problem. Church musicians have been trained to
read music and often forget to listen to and analyze what they play.
Advice: First, memorize more of what
you play. Second, try to understand the chord functions in the
piece, namely the dominants and tonics. You will begin to see
repeating patterns. Harmonic and melodic phrases from one song
often look like those in other songs. Try composing a piece
similar to the one you are reading. Note the piece's architecture:
the form, the phrase lengths and the melodic motifs. Try to follow
this pattern in your composition. Learning these skills will help
you hear more of what you play and free you from the music on the
Deadly Sin #2: Duplicating
Many church musicians find themselves in ensembles that are thrown
together with volunteer musicians from the congregation. Often,
these groups are made up of several guitars plus a keyboard player.
These situations result in harmonic overload, meaning too many
people are playing the harmony.
Advice: Think through each musician's role
in an ensemble. Not everyone needs to play at the same time. For
example, if you have six musicians in your group, you can form
many different quintets, quartets, trios and even duos simply by
asking certain people to "lay out" and not play for a passage or
two. Try this proven orchestration technique. You may be surprised
at how much your group's sound improves.
Deadly Sin #3: Failing to
stay up to date on technology
Ah, the wonder of technology, or should I say nightmare . Church
organists often find themselves facing the issue of how to play and
use the synthesizer. This is due to the demand on church musicians
to play more "pop" oriented music.
Advice: Don't view the synthesizer as a
replacement for your instrument. Instead, look at it as a helpful
addition. Invest a little time with your new synthesizer and
you'll discover how to embellish your performance on the organ or
piano by adding sounds. For example, using a synthesizer patch,
you can gently add strings to a melody or melodic passage. In this
way, the synthesizer becomes a wonderful orchestration tool.
Deadly Sin #4: Not learning
jazz harmonies and voicings
This is one of my favorites. Unfortunately, music degree curriculums
are jam-packed with required courses. What's more, most theory
programs ignore the importance of jazz. As a result, music students
and church musicians often don't have (or take) the opportunity to
enroll in a jazz class, such as jazz keyboard harmony or jazz
theory. Fortunately, things are changing with the advent of the
Eastman initiatives that now include at least some jazz in most
Advice: Invest a little time studying jazz
harmonies and voicings. Start by taking a summer workshop with an
experienced jazz pianist. Or study on your own with a good jazz
method book. You can find method books by Dan Haerle, Mark Levine
and Bill Dobbins. Also, I invite you to consider the book I wrote,
Jazz Keyboard Study, published by Advance Music. When you learn
jazz harmonies and voicings, you'll dramatically improve your
sound -- and find yourself in the top 5% of church musicians.
Deadly Sin #5: Not learning
how to improvise
Church musicians are often asked to just "play something" while an
event within the worship service is taking place, such as a
meditative moment. Or the musician may be asked to play background
music during a reading. This is where improvising skills really come
Advice: You don't need to be an aspiring
Chick Corea or Oscar Peterson to improvise. When you improvise in
church, you add a new, fresh dimension to your worship service.
The jazz masters use many devices. For example, here's a simple
one to get you started: Use the melody as your source. Within the
melody you will hear a shape or motif that you can play
sequentially by adapting it to the changing harmony. Find a three
or four note idea from the melody and "shape" it to fit the
chords. As you study the piece, you will discover many new ideas.
Use them as well. Finally, invest in a few good jazz recordings. I
recommend Bill Evans for pianists. Listen to the way he plays the
melody and then uses fragments for his improvisational ideas.
Deadly Sin #6: Playing in
keys that aren't good for singing
Many songs in church hymnals are not written in keys that are
comfortable for singers. Over the past 40 years, as a professional
pianist, I've played for hundreds of vocalists. Early on, I learned
I had to be flexible and willing to change keys to accommodate a
Advice : Learn to transpose. You never know
when your male or female vocalists will tell you that a song is in
a difficult key. I recommend that you ask one of your group's
singers to test out a key. Learning to transpose takes some
effort, but it pays big dividends later. Vocalists love to work
with experienced and sensitive accompanists.
Deadly Sin #7: Playing songs
at the wrong tempo
Many church musicians play songs too slowly. Often, tempos need to
be quicker and livelier.
Advice: For each piece, find the optimum
tempo that corresponds to the lyrics. You do this by reciting the
words before you play them. Try to get a feeling for what the
words say. Then adapt that speed to your music. Also, learn to
listen to the singers. At times, you'll need to speed up or slow
down to accommodate them. Most singers like to be led, but not at
the expense of tuning them out.
With a little effort, you can
avoid most -- if not all -- of these "sins". I encourage you to
continue to grow as a musician and make the most of the talents God
has given you.
CJA Devotional "Another Year To Be
We at Songs Of David feel
that music is an incredible gift -- something that shouldn't be
taken for granted! Not only that, but life itself is a precious
gift! Consider the lyrics to " Every Day Is A Gift " ( from the
Fresh Fire CD,
"Are You Ready?"). The
musical style is Reggae with a light-hearted feel! It is a
favorite worship chorus that we use every where we sing!
Every Day, Every Day
Every Day is a gift from the Lord
'Mon don't even complain
Just begin to praise His name
For every day is a gift from the Lord!
Thank you Jesus
Thank you Jesus
Thank you Jesus
Thanks for another day!
To hear an audio excerpt of this song:
Accordingly, every day should be received with
thankfulness. Every breath we take, every moment we live is a
handout from a kind and gracious creator!
Consider these recent
1) People who describe themselves as feeling
grateful to God or creation in general tend to have higher
vitality and more optimism, suffer less stress, and experience
fewer episodes of clinical depression than the population as a
2) Grateful people are more likely to
describe themselves as happy or satisfied in life.
In an experiment with college students, those
who kept a "gratitude journal", a weekly record of things they
should feel grateful for, achieved better physical health, were
more optimistic, exercised more regularly, and described
themselves as happier than a similar group who kept no journals
on being thankful.
Psychology has ignored feelings of gratitude
and thankfulness and its effects on the well-being of the
individual. Gratitude research is beginning to suggest that
feelings of thankfulness have great potential in helping people
cope with stress, and positive self-esteem.
A man going through a "mid-life"
crises describes going to a retreat where a Minister had them
answer a question and it changed this
mans life. The questions was, What can I love about today?
What a tremendous question! Try this
question out yourself and then use it on specific items as well. It
could transform your life! Make a decision that you are going to
make this year and the rest of your life one of gratitude and be
So let the peace of Christ
rule in your hearts! And whatever you do in word or in deed, do
it all in the name of the Lord...And Be Thankful! ( Colossians )
By David Arivett
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