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Baecker Jazz Worship Service: The John Cooper Jazz Orchestra
 Artists: John Cooper (composer/director), Kenny Partyka, Russ Miller, Gunnar Mossblad, Chris Collins, Mark Berger, Roger Ingram, David Hoffman, Art Davis, Brian Coyle, Rick Simerly, John Mose, Tom Garling, Matt Traeger ("Communion" only), Mike Pashenee, Matt Michaels, Jeff Halsey, David Taylor and vocalist, Reverend DaNita Bell
Baecker Music Productions 00261-23215-7 (2007)
Running Length: 50 minutes
A host of artists inhabit the Baecker Jazz Worship Service.  The seven parts of the service were composed for the 50th Anniversary of The Western and Eastern associations of the Illinois Conference of the United Church of Christ. This music is for everyone and all denominations, plus anyone who appreciates jazz. There are top-notch musicians involved in this CD with the addition of vocalist Reverend DaNita Bell.
The service has seven sections, starting with the beginning prelude, going to the Gospel, an additional composition, offertory, doxology, communion and the postlude. “In The Beginning,” has the sound of  wind to indicate that this really IS the Beginning, after that comes the sound of water, and murmur of voices, angels, perhaps? God’s voice, which is female, is heard and light comes forth. This is when you start paying attention, for light is dissonant and with it comes everything you might want to see---or not. The use of tenor saxophone is haunting.
Reverend DaNita Bell reads the Gospel of John 21 during “Gospel,” to an instrumental background, alternating between words and music. The mood is carefree, such as you would have had with everyday, working people at the time of Christ. “St. Anthony’s Light” begins with percussion (David Taylor) extending to a big band sound with trumpet reminiscent of Ray Anthony. There is solid keyboard (Matt Michaels) and a wonderful saxophone section.  Jazz enthusiasts will purr. 
“Offertory” is written in Preservation Hall style with trumpet and trombone. Jeff Halsey’s bass is a treat, and underneath it all is percussion that lays a firm foundation for other instruments. “Doxology” is short, with all brass, slightly dissonant and a bit askew, with Reverend Bell doing the doxology words. This is a new tonal setting for the familiar words and is pleasing.
“Communion” features keyboard and solo muted trumpet in a tribute to the late musician Royden “Church” Magee III. The melody is solitary, but hopeful and a wistful ending is poignant. “This Little Light of Mine,” as with “St. Anthony’s Light’ is a jazz delight with saxophone and trumpet solo’s. Though, I couldn’t readily place the melody until Reverend Bell began singing, the composition would make a wonderful postlude to a church service and features high-note trumpet ending, sure to shake the rafters.
This is a jazz service that could stand alone in a concert hall. If you preferred to omit the “Gospel” and “Doxology,” there would be 43 minutes of jazz music. By including “Gospel” and “Doxology,” you could, also, minister to the audience.  A choice to be made depending on your particular situation. By being versatile, the CD could go several ways from good listening to performance. 
Copyright 2008 Marie Asner
Submitted 1/9/08


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