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Archive for the ‘Jazz’ tag

Experiencing the Sacred within Secular Music

Charles Howard
from Huffington Post

Professor Kirk Byron Jones messed me up. In a good way. His Jazz of Preaching class that I so joyfully attended during my second year of seminary at Andover Newton, was a symphony of holy mischief with each class session simultaneously graying and clarifying where the believer may encounter the Presence of God. Back then there was much talk in seminaries and divinity schools about “border crossing” and that is exactly where this course was taught – at the closely watched and fiercely guarded border between the sacred and the secular. And that’s a dangerous place to be. The few who dare step over the clearly delineated lines are either labeled as groundbreaking ambassadors or lost, wandering ex-pat heretics.

Jones invited students to not only visit the border between what is also called the holy and the profane, he invited us to dance on the border and encourage trade between the two warring nations.

We listened to Duke Ellington and Mahalia Jackson’sCome Sunday, which I can’t hear without tearing up. We raised our hands in praise when we played Coltrane’s divine utterance A Love Supreme in which he says with perfect articulation through his saxophone, “It all has to do with it…” We praised, we wept, we paused, we danced and we shouted with artist after artist.

As a preaching class, the lessons on improvisation while preaching, blues preaching, harmony, call and response and the myriad of applicable metaphors are still notions that I draw from when I am given the honor of entering the pulpit. Jones wrote them up in his wonderful book by the same title The Jazz of Preaching. But there was a deeper lesson that I walked away with: The border between the sacred and the secular is not as firm as it may seem.

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Kabbalah and Jazz: The Mystical Foundation of Improvisational Music

From  The Huffington Post

In his great work To Heal the Soul, Rabbi Kalonymus Kalman Shapira wrote that all humans each have their own unique musical ladder — a distinct melody that allows one to draw down spiritual sustenance into this world. This melody is exclusive and in essence can not be performed by anyone else. He believes that it is so individualized that to use someone else’s ladder is like putting someone else’s saliva into your mouth to sing. This concept is so ubiquitous, so universal, that Rebbe Nachman of Breslov went as far as to say that each and every blade of grass has its own unique melody as well. Very poetic, but is there any substance to it?

Years ago this assertion would have been harder to make but not so since the advent of String Theory.

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November 18th, 2010 at 6:00 am