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Disciplined Freedom

Jazz is both about freedom and discipline in musical expression. It is very much disciplined freedom.

The freedom is in the interpretation of any singer, musician, and composer who brings their own touch to a piece.

The discipline is in the technique employed to yield the sound expressing mood, emotion, and interpretation.

I believe both of these elements are overlooked in church.

Freedom and discipline are replaced with noise and volume to cover musical deficiencies. Please take this as an observatory note. I am not discrediting or criticizing any one singer or musician. We who sing and play gospel or contemporary music are all guilty.

But, when you step out of your comfort zone by trying something different, you inevitably grow. That is exactly what happened at choir rehearsal yesterday.

In yesterday's rehearsal, we took the first 15 minutes to do nothing but breathing exercises and vocal warm-ups. 7 total. These were minutes we would have typically used to work on a new song, with no warm-ups.

After only 15 minutes of silly-looking, funny-sounding exercises, our choir sounded like something you'd hear on your radio!

My point here is devoting more time to vocal and musical development are more important than learning the top 10 songs on the radio or knowing hundreds of songs. We cannot neglect the fundamentals. And if we don't the basics, we need to commit to learning them.

That is what I love about jazz. It keeps you honest to your craft. You cannot use noise, volume, or the transpose button to escape true technique.

The greater the awareness and attention to detail given to music, the greater the final product.

Case in point, Richard Smallwood. In my opinion, Richard Smallwood has one of the best choirs in America. Their words are clear, they effectively use dynamics, they complement the music (and vice versa), and they don't scream into amplified sound systems. Their sound is bold, effective, and confident. Plus, they sing Scripture.

Like in all music, balance is key. And, that balance is derived in the freedom to utilize various techniques to create music in a disciplined and effective manner.

1. "Total Praise"- Richard Smallwood

2. "Anthem of Praise"- Richard Smallwood

3. "Come Before His Presence"- Richard Smallwood

4. "My Everything (Praise Awaiteth)"- Richard Smallwood 

5. "Trust Me"- Richard Smallwood


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