Sabbatical fever...

Jazz for the Journey - that's what a conference in Cleveland was called that
some of our band attended last year at about this time - and that's what I've called the new blog for my 2015 sabbatical: Jazz for the Journey. It evokes a few truths that I want to explore more seriously:

+ First is the practice of working on my upright bass playing. Not only will I be giving serious time each week to physically practicing this bad boy, but I will also be spending serious time listening to the great bass players in jazz at the Montreal Jazz Festival's Mediatheque. (Check it out: http://www.montreal
jazzfestcom/maison-du-festival-online/) I want/need to be able to saturate myself in the sounds of one master - and learn some of the grooves in her/his style - before moving on to another. This is an exciting and liberating educational experience that is a once in a lifetime blessing.

+ Second is the reading and reflection time given to jazz liturgy. This, too, is a chance to read deeply in this discipline and see what new insights - and old truths - pop up for me. Ever since Martha Baker's freshman English class at Lakeland College I have been in love with learning. So, these four months are a true taste of heaven.

+ Third is our attendance at both the Ottawa and Montreal Jazz Festival. Not only is it a total gas to wander around these festival sites - taking in the groove - and watching people, but there are some killer artists at both these gigs and we will have the freedom to pick and choose among the best of the best.

+ Fourth is connecting with a Quebecois neighborhood - and spending time working on Quebecois French. I love being in this city with Di and becoming more proficient in French will be a satisfying challenge.
+ Fifth is the time for daily prayer and quiet contemplation. I've lost touch with some of my deep prayer disciplines over the years and part of this sabbatical is a chance to reclaim new/old prayer habits that feed my soul. This will include walking and watching as we make Montreal our home.

+ Sixth is the pre and post road trips built into the sabbatical. On the front end of our residency in Montreal we will spend a week in New York City, Nashville and Pittsburgh attending a jazz liturgy event, talking with some of the facilitators and taking in the buzz of the jazz scene in these cities. I've already secured our housing in both NYC and Nashville so things are already falling into shape. (The East Village and Scarritt-Bennett Conference Center respectively.)

+ And seventh is simply the rest this adventure allows: it is, after all, a sabbatical and NOT a work/study encounter.

The late, great Montreal jazz pianist, Oscar Peterson, said it well: 
It’s the group sound that’s important, even when you’re playing a solo. You not only have to know your own instrument, you must know the others and how to back them up at all times. That’s jazz. I love playing in an ensemble - or as part of a duo - and want to do it with more verve and confidence. So I give thanks to God, my colleagues at First Church and the leadership of this faith community for helping me make this come to pass.

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