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My Lutheran church is pretty small but our choir director is a superlative jazz pianist. We've had jazz jams off and on during the years but they never seemed to gel as a regular thing. This summer, the Pastor, who also plays a bit of piano, suggested that we do Vespers service once a month, and that we improvise most of the music. So far we've done this twice and folks seem to like it. I'm loving it, personally. Instrumentation is piano, clarinet, drums and bass. Last night, one of our best choir alto's brought her flute. She was rusty but we had fun.

The Lutheran "red book" hymnal and order of worship has a standardized Vespers Liturgy. We start at 5:30.

There's a call-and-response Call to Worship

The first hymn... When we tried this, the hymnal recommended a section of hymns that spoke about "evening". We went through them and looked for hymns that were credited as being written after about 1930....found a couple of really pretty ones.

Two readings.

An offertory... last month we played Dave Brubecks "Koto Song"...This month we played the "Jazz Nocturne" from Spike Lee and his ***** Orchestra, 1933 as transcribed by Julian Lage. There are lots of solos.

A psalm, usually a short one, which has a standardized note-pattern

Mary's Song of Praise, the Magnificat. This is improvised by Kristi the singer, while Bill the pianist basically does a quiet improv based on the opening pattern of Eric Satie's Gynopedies #1. Kristi uses the invervals in the Gymnopedies melody to frame the words of the Magnificat....but it's all improvised. (


Passing the Peace (greeting people)

Hymn #2

We then finish up with something jazzy and simple to transition to the dinner gathering. The open jam starts while people are eating dinner, in the Sanctuary. Last Sunday we just did C-Jam blues 'cause Kristi was playing flute and that's pretty simple. Then folks just hang out, play if they brought an instrument...sit in on drums or bass if they know how. The open Jam goes until 8:00 PM..

I'm writing tunes and words for the two hymns for next month. Bill-the-piano-player is harmonizing them.
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