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Straight No Chaser - A Jazz Show

Straight No Chaser is the place for jazz lovers (and those who will soon be jazz lovers) to enjoy podcasts with their favorite music and artists. Winner of the 2017 JazzTimes Readers' Poll for Best Podcast, your host Jeffrey Siegel will take you inside the world of jazz, from the new releases to the best festiva;s to remembrances of jazz legends.

Music for Holy Week: Pamela York's "Were You There?"

Mar 27, 2013

Continuing with musical selections of a spiritual or religious nature, here is a piano jazz version of the African-American Spiritual "Were You There?" from Pamela York's new CD, Lay Down This World - Hymns and Spirituals. The Cd may displease hardcore lovers of religious music in that at times it takes wonderful liberties with melody, meter and rhythm. However, the wonderful messages and themes of the tunes always shine through. As Ms. York says in her liner notes:

As a jazz pianist, it’s part of my tradition to reharmonize melodies and reinvent standards from the Great American Songbook. It naturally follows that this would carry over into the realm of church music. In fact, many of these arrangements began as preludes or offerings during a church service. While each hymn and spiritual on this album precedes the 20th century, it is my hope that you enjoy the contemporary sound I bring to the timeless beauty of these celebrated melodies. May this music bring you hope as you listen to this collection of 'joyful noise'.

The lyrical message is straight and simple, and since this is an instrumental, a brief quote this needed:

Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

A nice blog post you can find here will give you a little hsitory and background on the song.

The group is Ms. York on piano, Lynn Seaton on bass, and Sebastian Whittaker on drums.