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Gospel Jazz: The Intersection of Jazz and Gospel Music with Saxophonist Harold Rayford & the Rick Flowers Ensemble with Special Guest Trumpeter Corey Wilkes
June 3 @ 6:00 pm
Jazz and blues are recognized as “the” American indigenous art forms. African-American gospel music, music inspired by God, is the birthplace of jazz and blues. This program will consider the role of jazz as worship music (as in “Christ the Conquistador” and John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme), investigate the inclusion of jazz voicings in the newer gospel styles as well as improvisational performances of popular gospel songs, and also the role of the church as an incubator of jazz artists. Having been nominated three times for the Dove Award and once for the Stellar Award, there is no doubt that gospel jazz sax player Harold Rayford, and friends (including Rick Flowers on drums), will raise the roof in this highly anticipated two-set performance. Free.
Harold Rayford is a gifted, nationally acclaimed saxophonist who plays boldly for God and encourages souls in the process. This three-time Stellar Award and one-time Dove Award nominated musician is a songwriter, married father of two, and pastor of The Faith Place Church in the Madison, Wisconsin, area.
As a child, God, church and gospel reigned supreme in the Rayford household, laying the foundation for young Harold’s gospel jazz career and ministry. He recalls, “Growing up I listened to gospel but I didn’t develop an appreciation of jazz music until I was in high school. I also listened to a variety of artists, including Earth, Wind and Fire, Parliament, the Bar-Kays, Cameo, Aretha Franklin, James Cleveland and different gospel artists of that day. Andraé Crouch was a huge gospel influence on me! Once I got to high school I listened to jazz artists such as Charlie Parker, Cannonball Adderley, John Coltrane and Grover Washington Jr. This was before the days of smooth jazz.”
While some instrumentalists in gospel would rather lay claim to being an inspiring jazz or smooth jazz artist, as opposed to a gospel jazz artist, in order to be more mainstream, Rayford proudly proclaims his allegiance to his beloved genre. “I view my playing as a service to God. It is a privilege and something that I owe to him. So my music has more of a gospel flavor than a jazz flavor.”
In 2007 Rayford took a leap of faith, moving from associate pastor in Fort Worth to pastor of The Faith Place Church. He also still ministers with his saxophone constantly. Harold Rayford puts his heart, soul and over 40 years of music ministry into every song he plays. He often says, “I really hope this music ministers to the hearts, minds and souls of everyone who listens to it. And I pray that it becomes a conduit or mood-setter. So that whenever anyone needs to hear from God they can put in one of my eight CDs and go to that private place…that secret place and commune with God.”