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Spirits Rejoice!Jazz and American Religion$
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Jason Bivins

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780190230913

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190230913.001.0001

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Procession of the Great Ancestry

Procession of the Great Ancestry

Traditions Jazz and Religious1

(p.28) 2 Procession of the Great Ancestry
Spirits Rejoice!

Jason C. Bivins

Oxford University Press

The first case study examines the most obvious articulation of jazz and religion: religious traditions. Beginning with an interpretation of the complexities of the “black church” thesis (positing an unbroken historical and musicological connection between nineteenth-century religious music and twentieth-century vernacular music), the author uses jazz to locate the complexities in African American Protestant music (via Sam Rivers, Albert Ayler, and Charles Gayle) before proceeding to a discussion of Islam, Buddhism, Baha’i, Judaism, and combinative religions in jazz’s history. In each case, practitioners not only contribute substantively to the development of these religious traditions in the United States, the music of, for example, Chick Corea, Wayne Shorter, or John Zorn has been shaped indelibly by their improvisations on religious tradition. As with the case studies that follow, while “tradition” is rooted firmly in the religious imagination of these musicians, tradition is also not what we thought it was.

Keywords:   religious traditions, African American Protestantism, Islam, Buddhism, Scientology, Baha’i, Judaism, Combinative religions

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