The ChurchJazz Ensemble will present a piece composed by the group’s leader, Andy Tecson, called “Jazz It Up” at Grace Lutheran Church in River Forest on Nov. 5. Proceeds from the concert will go to Voice of Care, a “ministry by and with people with disabilities.”
The ChurchJazz Ensemble website states that the 9-piece group “has celebrated the gift of God’s music with congregations and audiences for 34 years.” Their repertoire includes “The Jazz Passion,” “The Chicago Jazz Mass,” “The Jazz Psalms,” “Jazz Nativity,” and several more.
Voice of Care is a Recognized Service Organization of the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod, established in 1976, which describes itself as “equipping the local church to embrace, empower, and engage people who experience disabilities — and their families — in their discipleship walk with Christ.”
One example of what Voice of Care does is what their website refers to as “Jesus Time,” a ministry in which volunteers go to facilities for people who have disabilities and tell Bible stories, pray, and lead songs. The site notes that “this is often the only Christian ministry available at these facilities.”
Voice of Care advises congregations on how to make their buildings more accessible, provides training to congregations on how to serve the disability community, presents Disability Awareness Days in schools and much more.
Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Oak Park has been doing Jazz Prayer on the third Friday of every month for years.
For those who find jazz a strange musical genre for religious music, Good Shepherd’s pastor Kathy Nolte explained, “It’s said that jazz happens in the spaces between the notes that are played. The same can be said for our spirituality. The connection to the Divine happens between the words that we speak. In both cases, our ability to hear both what is spoken or played, and what is perceived in the silence becomes a deeper connection.”
Andy Tecson has led the ChurchJazz Ensemble since 1982. He composed “The Jazz Psalms,” “The Chicago Jazz Mass” and set more than a hundred hymns for jazz band and congregational singing. The ChurchJazz band has been heard internationally on the BBC, nationally on CBS, and performed at numerous churches and church assemblies throughout the United States. While studying at the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich, he toured with jazz and pop bands throughout Germany, including Munich, Berlin, Hamburg, Hanover, Stuttgart and Bayreuth. Upon returning to Chicago, he performed with Steve Goodman, Howard Levy and Jump in the Saddle. “The Jazz Passion” has been performed in Chicago, New York, Leipzig, Berlin and Slovakia.
Nancy Hagen obtained her master’s degree in oboe performance, studying with then principal oboist of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Ray Still. She is a freelance musician, recording and performing on oboe and piano with orchestras and other ensembles. She was the principal oboist of the Park Ridge Civic Orchestra and is married to Andy Tecson.
Ken Jandes plays soprano, alto, tenor and baritone saxophone. In addition to having taught saxophone at the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago, he has performed extensively as both a jazz and classical saxophone player. A former superintendent of schools, he is currently academic dean of the American College of Education and a passionate advocate for linking professional practice to student achievement.