Spiritual Jazz From Blue Muse

Bruce Von Stiers

I got this album in a short time ago titled Blue Muse Live. It was by a jazz band with the strange name of Blue Muse. I wasn't sure what style of jazz they played because of their name. Was it jazz infused with blues? Did they play standard jazz or something quite different?

What I found was that the band played a kind of moderate, laid back jazz. They implement spiritual elements into their music, making the compositions a bit unique. They do play a lot of the time at churches, blending their music into the service. Faith and jazz music? Does that make for a good combination? I think it does.

The members of Blue Muse are Sarah Lee, Jonah Pierre, Jarrett Carter, Evan Peterson and Tony Steve. Jarret plays guitar and Evan is on drums. Tony plays the vibraphone and Jonah is on piano. Sarah plays tenor, alto and soprano saxophones. They are joined on a few of the songs by Ernie Ealum who plays the upright and electric bass. Also helping out is Cody Wheaton on upright bass for a couple of songs.

There are seven songs on Blue Muse Live. The album has a play time of forty-eight minutes. It was produced and engineered by Michael James Olson. The mixing and mastering of the album was done by Paul Lapinski.

Bless You is the first song. It is a kind of busy song with a lot of sax fronting it. As Jonah wrote the song, it has a really nice piano solo in the middle.

Sedate and gentle is Bachionda (Riding Waves of Bliss).

A lot of people know the song Smile from Nat King Cole. The song began as an instrumental, as part of the soundtrack for the 1936 Charlie Chaplin film, Modern Times. Songwriters in the early 1950's added lyrics and a title to the song. Cole was the first to make a hit of the song in 1954. The band takes a turn at this classic tune. Starting with a bit of sadness the song transitions into a gentle and sedate mode with terrific piano and sax.

They Say is a nice and easy song with some cool vibraphone and guitar.

Jonah composed the song Infant Dance using the influence of Wayne Shorter as its basis. The piano is the main instrument in the song, with gentle bass and brushes in the background.

Icarus has been done a lot of different ways. I have heard it done a lot with flute as the prominent instrument. Here, the band uses the sax as up front with vibraphone, bass and drums making up a terrific backdrop. There is a pretty good guitar solo in the song.

The album closes with a wonderful instrumental rendition of the classic hymn, Blessed Assurance.

Although there is only one song that would be considered truly church like, the album seem to convey a certain sense of spirituality and serenity. I really enjoyed the original compositions and the arrangements of the songs Smile and Icarus were done extremely well.

Blue Muse Live is available on iTunes and at other music outlets.

The official site for Blue Muse is http://bluemusejazz.com/#bluemusehome

There is also a band page on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/BlueMuseJazz/

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© 2015 Bruce E Von Stiers