[Dixielandjazz] : Jazz Vespers-- is this a rare and exotic event --Chet Jaeger

Norman Vickers nvickers1 at cox.net
Thu Oct 8 17:46:48 PDT 2009

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To:  Musicians and Jazzfans list & DJML

From: Norman Vickers, Jazz Society of Pensacola


Chet Jaeger of the Nighblooming Jazzmen responds to the query about jazz
vespers and similar services. Many of us  on this list are already aware of
the wonderful job the NBJazzmen do at jazz festivals nationally and
internationally as well as the CDs they've recorded.  I was particularly
appreciative of the background stories, which I didn't know.  Loved the
story about the lady who came to her own wake!


Thanks, Chet.  Would love to have you as a regular member on this list,
should your schedule permit.  This is so good, I'm posting on the DJML as
well so this will get wider exposure.  Keep up the good work.  Good wishes
to you and the  Nighblooming Jazzmen.  I have been a happy participant at
your sessions in San Diego over the Thanksgiving weekend.




From: cheteileen at juno.com [mailto:cheteileen at juno.com] 
Sent: Thursday, October 08, 2009 1:11 PM
To: nvickers1 at cox.net
Subject: RE: Jazz Vespers-- is this a rare and exotic event 


This is sent as a Microsoft Word 2007 document and printed below.  Use
whichever works best for you.


Hi Norm,
October 2009

An interesting project you have going.

            I (Chet Jaeger) approached my pastor with the idea of a Sunday
morning Dixieland service sometime in the late 1960's.  His reply was, in
effect, "You've got to be kidding!"   But a couple of weeks later he said,
"Let's try it" and we've been doing it every year since - usually just
before Mardi Gras.

            The first few times I recruited friends from SPDJ (Society for
the Preservation of Dixieland Jazz) and we did the service.  The Night
Blooming Jazzmen was assembled in October 1975 (I'd been using the name
since 1952) and we've been doing my church and dozens of other churches in
Southern California since. 

For a Sunday morning service we take the place of the organ.  We play a
prelude and postlude, play the congregational hymns, an offertory and
sometimes do an anthem with the choir.  We have over 50 hymns in our book.
The attendance on the Sundays we play (we've been told) is second only to

            In 1976 at Sacramento we noted that there was no Sunday morning
service and suggested to the Sac'to people that there should be.  So in 1977
they started their "Celebration of Faith" and we played it.  We also did it
in 1978, and then other bands wanted to do it, so in 1979 we started our
Sunday morning Hymn-a-long.  We had song sheets with the words and the
people sang with the band.  Soon we made up little song books and then some
better quality song books that we've had reprinted often and are still
using. In between the hymns I tell hopefully amusing church and religious
stories and everyone has a good time.  (We hope they have fun and an
inspirational experience.)  We have done hundreds of Hymn-a-longs at dozens
of Jazz Festivals all over the country. 

            We also do many concerts in churches - sometimes a fund raiser.
We sometimes do a straight jazz show, but more often we do a Hymn-a-long for
45 or 50 minutes, take a break, and then do our hour of straight jazz.

            We have also done innumerable funerals, wakes, post-funeral
receptions, etc.  They are all a little different, depending on what the
people want.  We have never done one in which we marched to grave side and
back since we use a piano and drum set.  But we often have done the service
in the chapel and then reassembled at gravesite and played without the
piano.  Sometimes I play Taps.

            Perhaps the wildest thing we ever played was a wake.  A woman
was terminally ill and hired the band, the caterer, the bartender, the hall,
etc. in advance.  Then she miraculously recovered.  But the wake was all set
up so we went ahead with it.  She came to her own wake and lived several
more years.

            The Night Blooming Jazzmen have made several CD's of hymns and
such.  Two are just hymns played rather straight in Dixieland Style.  These
are designed so that folks can use our books, play a CD, and have a
Hymn-a-long at home.  Two others are of Hymn-a-longs include the religious
stories.  One was done in one take at an actual Hymn-a-long in a church on
Saturday night.  The other is a compilation of bits from several
Hymn-a-longs at Jazz Festivals.  Another is of an entire Sunday morning
service in a church.  This and one Hymn-a-long are also in DVD.

                                                            KEEP JAZZY,

                                                               CHET JAEGER


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