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A musical setting of the Beatitudes for Jazz Big Band and Chorus
Composed, Arranged and Conducted by Russell Miller
Assistant Professor, Jazz Studies
Wayne State University Dept. of Music, Detroit, MI
Suite Justice is an suite of eight pieces representing each of the beatitudes from Matthew (5:3-10) wherein the strengths of the Concert Chorus and the Jazz Big Band are combined in a presentation of original jazz compositions that reflect the composer's thoughts and feelings about these teachings. The rhythm and inflection of the text of each of the beatitudes suggests a melodic shape and song form that allows for musical expression of the idea. Employment of a wide range of musical textures - a Capella chorus, vocal soloists, chorus with jazz band, full jazz band, small ensemble and jazz soloists - provide variety from piece to piece while the treatment of the text assists in maintaining continuity.
A note from the composer Russell Miller:
"As I pondered the beatitudes from the beginning of Christ's Sermon On The Mount (Matthew 5: 3-10), I was moved not only by their enigmatic and poetic nature but also by their provocative implications. An interpretation of these teachings however is not offered here. Instead, listeners are invited to experience the poetry of the text through the expressive qualities of the music and to come away with their own impressions."
Peter Kahn - alto sax, tenor sax, clarinet
Keith Kaminski - alto sax, tenor sax
Russell Miller - alto sax, tenor sax, flute
Mark Berger - baritone sax, bass clarinet
Richard Wolkins - trumpet, flugelhorn
William Lucas - trumpet, flugelhorn
Ronald Kischuck - trombone
Edward Gooch - trombone
Michael Karloff - piano
Michael Jesup - guitar
Patrick Prouty - acoustic and electric basses
David Taylor - drums
Jillian Jackson - soprano
Claire Sawicki - soprano
Rachel Tibai - soprano
Kylee Phillips - alto
Paige Wilkinson - alto
Eric Taylor - tenor
Jerrold Lee - bass
Francisco Leon - bass
CD cover artwork by Mike McMath
If you would like to purchase a print of the original artwork, contact the artist directly at
View all of Mike McMath's art at www.emptycanvaslive.com
From the artist:
"The combination of The Beatitudes and Russel Miller's composition inspired me to do a spiritual painting and then break that piece down into abstract images. Deconstructing the image removes the spiritual aspect and makes the painting about color and composition. Inspired by Russel Miller's CD, my painting can be viewed as spiritual, but also on a raw level of beauty....brush stroke to canvas like lyrics to music."
--Michael D. McMath
1. Poor In Spirit -Blessed are the poor in spirit, theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Latin jazz inspired by the music of Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock. Features an extended piano solo by Mike Karloff.
2. Those Who Mourn - Blessed are those who mourn, they shall be comforted.
A 24 bar blues in a pseudo gospel style. Features a Capella chorus, a soprano vocal solo by Kylee Phillips and a tenor saxophone solo by Keith Kaminski.
3. The Meek - Blessed are the meek, they shall inherit the earth.
A medium-tempo jazz waltz with shades of Oliver Nelson. Features an extended trumpet solo by Bill Lucas.
4. Hunger and Thirst - Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, they shall be filled.
Afro-Cuban jazz and swing a la Tito Puente. Features an alto sax solo from the composer Russell Miller.
5. The Merciful - Blessed are the merciful, they shall obtain mercy.
An up-tempo swing based on Juan Tizol's "Caravan." Features a Capella chorus and a tenor sax solo from Russell Miller.
6. Pure in Heart - Blessed are the pure in heart, they shall see god.
Based on Bach Prelude No. 1 in C Major BWV846. A tenor sax and electric bass counter-melody woven into Bach's classic prelude.
7. The Peacemakers - Blessed are the peacemakers, they shall be called the sons of god.
A light, "half time feel" swing. Features a tenor vocal solo by Eric Taylor and a guitar solo by Michael Jessup.
8. The Persecuted - Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, theirs
is the kingdom of heaven.
Inspired by Billy Strayhorn's "Lotus Blossom," a melancholy tune with a Basie-style twist. Features an alto sax solo from the composer Russell Miller.