Jazz musicians often play music in the background, as people dine, chat, or daydream. But pianist Bill Carter describes the moment that inspired this new CD.
“A lady approached me after I had played a solo piano concert,” he recalls. “She clasped my hands and would not let go. Staring into my eyes, she said, ‘When you were playing the piano, it was like I was looking into your soul.’
“I wondered what she saw and heard. Whatever it was, the music touched her, healed her, and brought her completely alive.’”
It was this occasion that prompted Carter to reflect on the spiritual power of jazz. He composed a suite of new tunes that are equally evocative and provocative. “I wanted to put together some music that invites people to reflect upon their lives,” he notes.
Indeed, life events prompt these fresh compositions: the death of a friend, the gift from a grandmother, the sending-off of teenage children to college, to name but a few. Each tune is interpreted by the world-class musicians of the Presbybop Quartet. These extraordinary improvisers have graced the performing stage with musicians like Phil Woods, David Liebman, Gerry Mulligan, Dave Brubeck, Natalie Cole, and Bob Brookmeyer. They bring depth and imagination to every single note.
“This is music for the sake of contemplation,” Bill declares with a twinkle in his eye, “but there’s nothing boring or repetitive about it. You might say it’s our rebuttal to New Age music. Jazz like this will not let anybody withdraw to some imaginary cloud. Rather, it will drive us to live with more purpose and joy. In short, this is jazz to nourish the soul.”
The musicians who bring these inner reflections to life are Al Hamme on saxophones, flute, and clarinet; Tony Marino on acoustic bass; Ron Vincent on drums and percussion; and composer/pianist Bill Carter.
Bill Carter and the Presbybop Quartet are the best known musicians playing “sacred jazz” in the United States. Formed in 1993 by pianist Bill Carter, a Presbyterian minister, this consort of New York-based professionals have toured the country extensively in presenting concerts and jazz worship services. They have served as the “house band” for prominent clergy conferences, led worship services for the PC(USA) General Assembly, and served as “musical theologians in residence” at Princeton Theological Seminary, the Massachusetts United Church of Christ, and Arkansas conference of the United Methodist Church. They have recorded eight CDs of original tunes and jazz for the church, including “John According to Jazz” with biblical storyteller Dennis Dewey, and “Welcome Home” with vocalist Warren Cooper.
All of their recordings are available through CD Baby. More information on concert dates can be found on their website at www.presbybop.com.