Thank you for visiting the blog associated with my book Spirits Rejoice! Jazz and American Religion. Whether you came here because I urged you to do so in the book’s front matter, or whether you found this blog before actually reading a single sentence from that work, hopefully the result will be the same: that you engage this music that is so integral a part of the last century-plus of American religious history.
Those arguments, and those bodies of evidence, needn’t be rehearsed here once more. In the book are also abundant contextualizations of both musicians and religious themes. Here is a place to listen to what you have read about, or (ideally) to listen to the persons you are simultaneously reading about.
However you approach it, I’ve organized my listening guide in parallel with the book’s structure. In some places, I supplement this with an overall “recommended listening” guide and in others I simply take you through the recordings discussed (and since I don’t here incorporate music from absolutely every musician mentioned, please also consult the discography). When the actual recordings referred to in the text are available online, I use them. When they are not available, I choose other performances that I think are representative or particularly compelling. Do seek out and support the music if you enjoy it. Do spread the word. (And if anyone wants further recommended listening, do drop a line.)