From every aspect of music, Gospel Jazz portrays the precise passion of perfectly inspired innovation and unity. Gospel Jazz is and can be one of the purest forms of true music which emanates from the depth and improvisation of its own composers, writers, producers and performers.

What Is "Gospel Jazz?" - Part 6: "In Summary"
By Terrence Richburg

We're fortunate to live in a profound time in history when God's plan for His beloved people has transcended time, man-made stereotypes, and human paradigms--full-circle from where the original message of His Word was proclaimed, but has remained true all the same for centuries. God in His sovereignty uses what and chooses whom He wishes to fulfill His ultimate will. He fulfills this regardless of what the status-quo believes, thinks or feels.

Through willing Levites and anointed messengers of song, the genre of "Gospel-Jazz" music is becoming more and more popular every day. This wealth of music still spreads the "good news" of the gospel. Whether it's through saxophone, trumpet, guitar, bass, drums, piano or organ you'll be sure to hear the best in Gospel-Jazz from the best Gospel and Jazz musicians in the world. Don't ever underestimate the quality, quantity or quintessential impact of this music on the popular climate of today or its influence on the culture of the future.

History has shown us that over the span of time music has been a major driver as well as a sympathetic responder to the cultural climate both in the secular world and the sacred. Music is not just an art form, but it is an experience for the moment and one to relive time and time again in the memories of the soul and spirit. Therefore, now is the time of our personal responsibility to allow and inspire the gift of Gospel Jazz to thrive and to bear the ordained contributable fruits within the arts and among the hearts of those living now and also those who are to come.

The Historical Connection
By Terrence Richburg

Gospel Jazz might be thought of as a brand new form of music in some circles these days, but honestly as with all things "there is nothing new under the sun." The origins of Gospel Jazz are as familiar as any other form of musical expression. Just as the separate styles Gospel and Jazz were born out of the deep emotional experiences endured and overcome by our fore-parents and ancestors, Gospel Jazz has always been around--just not recognized as such. Early ancestral forms as key as Negro Spirituals born in the slave-tended fields of the South gave birth to the heart-wrenching cries of Jazz siblings such as the "Blues." Both are full of deep emotion, individual improvisational styling and personal stories imparted to audiences by the performers and a sense of connectedness to listeners from an experiential "living-proof" perspective.

Another profound effect of the instrumental side of Gospel Jazz, which has been affirmed over and over again by contemporary genre lovers, is its ability to inspire a sense of peace as a soothing balm to both mental and physical stress. This benefit is supported biblically as noted in I Samuel 16:23, as David played his harp for Saul. Gospel Jazz artist and modern-day pioneer, Jeff Majors fulfills this calling in contemporary fashion with his internationally enjoyed harp ministry. There are also many other great Gospel Jazz Pioneers and contributors to this genre as a legitimate form--familiar musicians and vocal artists that have forged the way and bridged the gap for the exposure and improved acceptance among Christian and secular audiences alike. Some of the most well-known but not always associated artists and influences of the Gospel Jazz realm include such musical giants as Ramsey Lewis, Aretha Franklin, Thomas Whitfield, The Clark Sisters, Daryl Coley, Take 6, Ben Tankard, Yolanda Adams, Allen & Allen, Kirk Whalum, Jeff Majors, Kim Burrell, and the list goes on. That's right, Gospel Jazz is not just instrumental, but includes a whole host of vocal expressionists and stylists as well, and in some ways represents some of the most essential contributions to the music industry and to music history, as a whole.

By Terrence Richburg

The Secular-Spiritual Connection

There exists a whole other "flip side" to this entire Jazz genre thing that is not only worth mentioning, but serves as a profound voice of how Jazz and Gospel are so inter-related in spirit and message. One of the most significant aspects of today's Jazz world is the number of professing Christians and notable genre contributors who perform as major Jazz artists, true to the form musically, but who are just as true to their calling to dedicate their lives and musical talents wholly or in part, respectively, to the cause of the Gospel through recorded and live Gospel Jazz works and performances.

Familiar names such as Jonathan Butler, John Patitucci, Kirk Whalum and many others are well known as both top notch Jazz artists and fervent believers. Some critics might label them as sell-outs to a type of secularism contradicting Christian principles and teachings. But the truth is Jazz is musical art, just as relevant as Classical, Gospel, Latin, African, Chinese, Japanese or any other style of music which has its heart rooted in experiential passion and cultural diversity.

But I will go one step further to say that the improvisational element of both Jazz and Gospel render them the most precise conduits for rendering the kind of spontaneous praise to God referenced in Psalm 150. There is also a breaking down of language barriers which allows Christian Jazz artists and musicians like no other messengers sent by God to reach those in that community who have not yet come to a point of belief in Christ.

Who better to minister to the lost in the world of Jazz than those who speak the vernacular understood by those listeners? Also, what truer testimony than a vessel created by God to give back to Him the gift of music received in a style that He alone has created and established for His own good pleasure and glory?

By Terrence Richburg

The Gospel-Spiritual Connection

I recently had a rather eye-opening encounter while performing at a Gospel Jazz event at a local church--yes; I said "church." The audience comprised of regular "church folk" upon hearing the ministry of Gospel Jazz suddenly displayed a wide-variety of emotions through their thunderous applause and shouts, sways and dances, tears of joy, and sheer awareness of just how awesome God really is. The music's testimony transcended the man-made boundaries and paradigms which until that moment had been the teachers and guides within the minds and hearts of those attending. Their preconceptions were all redefined by the experience of what they had heard, felt and lived for that moment in time. They couldn't explain what had happened before them, to them or inside them, but could only describe aspects of what they had come to know as something more than just a concert. It was more like a revelation of God as He chose to use vessels and instruments as available means to communicate on a soulful, spirit-filled level. It was at this moment that I realized and God confirmed the remarkable gift and opportunity He imparted to me and to all Gospel Jazz artists. This wasn't just a chance to play or sing great music, entertain or have fun, but it had swiftly become a serious matter--a personal responsibility for encouraging hearts and inspiring souls to reach new heights with understanding and connect with Christ and each other in a brand new way. Words of humility were the only appropriate response I could utter.

By Terrence Richburg

The Genre

"The precious gems of Jazz and Gospel as separate musical art forms have been around for a very long time and both are profoundly rooted in the rich heritage of the African-American cultural experience." So then what should be said about the even newer , "unique" " Gospel Jazz ? " Is it a musical hybrid, an emancipator of closet Jazz lovers, a "watering down" of two original music contributions to allow acceptance by the culture, or is Gospel Jazz rather the predestined offspring of a sacred marriage--a spiritual fusion of two loves so intertwined in origin and style that they naturally exist as one, yet preserve their solemn right and personality as distinct entities?

From every aspect of music, Gospel Jazz portrays the very passion of perfectly inspired innovation and unity. There is no disagreement or argument in this relationship as their nature and musical complexity work together in perfect harmony, rhythm, melody, creativity, style, form, drive, emotion, spirituality, excitement, tenderness, vision, mystique, and inspiration. Gospel Jazz is and can be one of the purest forms of true music which emanates from the depth and improvisation of its own composers, writers, producers and performers. Gospel Jazz is so pure and potent that it can carry the message of a song instrumentally without the lyrics of a vocalist and yet communicate the instrumentation of a life-changing song vocally without the accompaniment of instruments--it is spiritual and ministry at its least and worship and praise at its best.

By Terrence Richburg

Gospel Jazz is one of the newest and hottest genres of musical genius with increasing popularity and acceptance within the Christian community, but also generating wide appeal within the secular world of musical entertainment. The precious gems of Jazz and Gospel as separate musical art forms have been around for a very long time and both are profoundly rooted in the rich heritage of the African-American cultural experience. Although there has been major progress over recent years to unveil to the world both styles and their unlimited techniques and distinctive articulations through the amazing performances and recordings of artists, there still lacks a true level "playing field" for commercial acceptance and equality in the market place. Declining revenues in the pockets of record labels and "would-be" consumers only serve to make it more difficult for emerging fans to take a chance on investing in something relatively new. Even with brave-hearted financial strides made by some in the business still the emotional and spiritual value offered to the community through these incredible musical genres is sidelined. Mainstream appreciation, support and respect for these music giants are all too often missing from the industry headlines of the day--nevertheless, hope still prevails.

With everything society is throwing at us these days, and in a world full of political ambiguity, terrorism, economic uncertainty, and a myriad of other severe dilemmas, it's imperative to strive to maintain balance and learn to draw a sense of peace and strength from the incredible creativity and artistic diversity that lies deep within us as people. Today's "breaking news" tends to usher us into places of deep despair and, even among the most committed and devoted of us, diminishes our focus a few notches both emotionally and spiritually. It's at that spiritual level of one's self that consistent nurturing and involvement allows and compels us to keep moving forward while fending off the constant attacks of "the enemy" against our very souls. We maintain a disposition of joy and tranquility on this difficult but certain journey of promise. Even more, God has so infinitely gifted us in unique ways that all of us can play an individual part in the sustenance of the human spirit, even sometimes in methods and by way of resources we've ignored, rejected or have failed to engage or experience. Some of the richest wells of strength and endurance reside in our own backyards--a wealth of gems just waiting for the chance to be excavated, revealed, noticed, and discovered for the precious treasures they are. Gospel Jazz brings together two of the most precious of these artistic riches implanted within the fertile hearts and minds of many gifted artists and musicians, several of which are awaiting the opportunity when they and their music will be discovered and presented to the world.

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