Hymn tunes are having a bit of a moment with players such as Dave Douglas and James Brandon Lewis calling on these sturdy old melodies for projects that often wander far from their plain, homespun source material. On New American Hymnal (Outside in Music, 2023), pianist Dave Meder goes a step further by making the communal nature of hymn-singing a metaphor for the current state of society in the United States. "Modern Gothic" joyously references the simple triadic harmonies of Protestant hymns while subtly tweaking their foursquare structure. Philip Dizack's trumpet adds a heraldic, annunciatory voice while bassist Marty Jaffe and drummer Michael Piolet lead the congregation out of the sanctuary and into a New Orleans street parade. Here's another reference that's hard to miss: the American and European quartets of Keith Jarrett, especially in the unison turnaround figure that unmistakably nods to the bouncing melody of "The Windup," one of Jarrett's signature compositions. Sing hallelujah!
Contact John Chacona on All About Jazz.
John Chacona is a freelance journalist, content writer and producer in Cleveland.
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