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God, Creation, and All That Jazz: A Process of Composition and Improvisation Paperback – July 1, 2001

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 146 pages
  • Publisher: Chalice Press (July 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0827212461
  • ISBN-13: 978-0827212466
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.7 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,789,083 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Paul Adams on July 9, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is a good text, if you happen to have a PhD in systematic theology. I'm a professional jazz musician who also happens to hold a graduate theological degree, and it was over my head most of the time. I have used this book twice (with mixed results) to lead a Theology of Jazz class at my church, but I don't think I will use it a third time.

I wouldn't be surprised if this book was condensed down from a dissertation. Much of the theology was so esoteric that it was difficult for us to discern what difference the author hoped her argument would make in our lives. Against my hopes, I found myself skimming large portions of the book and locking onto the smaller sections when the author would tell a little story or have a few helpful sentences for our class to discuss.

The jazz side of the book has the opposite issue - it is so stereotyped and simplified that it is difficult to dig into for meaning. For example, in this book jazz as defined as improvisation. No doubt improvisation is a key element of jazz, but a significant portion of jazz music is NOT improvised (much of swing and West Coast jazz, for example). It is composed, written down, and repeated the same way every time. On the flip side, classical music actually can allow for improvisation (unlike the author's perspective) - just in a more subtle manner. The author's entire argument depends on a flawed - or at least immature - perspective of what jazz music is about.

When the theology is too deep and the jazz is too shallow, you have to do a lot of editing in your head to make the book work.

All that said, I give it three stars, because there are relatively few books on this subject, and it is a good attempt at trying to connect jazz and theology together. A few of my students absolutely loved the book, but the overwhelming majority gave it back to me at the end and told me to find something else for next time.
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