United Church of Langley offers Sunday services with a touch of jazz

First Jazz Vespers service runs Sunday, Jan. 19, with musician Linda Szentes performing

A series of three Jazz Vespers afternoon services will be taking place in the United Churches of Langley’s (UCoL) Murrayville sanctuary on the third Sunday of January, February, and March.

Jazz Vespers, as a concept worship service and as an outreach ministry, began in New York City in the 1960s.

Pastor John Gensel of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church designed a service made up of prayer and jazz music for musicians who couldn’t make it to Sunday morning services after playing late night gigs the night before.

In that tradition, today’s vespers services – which happen all over the Lower Mainland, and even around the world – are often formulated for those not necessarily comfortable in a regular church on Sunday mornings.

The first service on Sunday, Jan. 19 will feature church music leader Linda Szentes and her band, Jazzlinks – Brenda Baird on piano, Michael Toth on guitar, Johan Worst on bass, and Zoltan Kollar on drums.

“Jazz is about listening, cooperation, and taking turns; it is spontaneous,” Szentes explained. “I think it is a form of music that invites dialogue, and that is what the United Church is good at; entering into dialogue with people who may not believe what we believe.”

The group’s sound comes from working with the same people consistently; warm and blues-oriented with a swing feel and melodic improvising; they interpret a vast repertoire and a range of styles within the jazz genre – interpreting a wide repertoire from the 1920s and ’30s, all the way to the ’70s.

“It’s a transition for people,” Szentes continued. “Jazz Vespers provides a transitional activity for people who are looking for a relaxing way to start their busy week; it also provides the ideal place (a warm and inviting space) and time (late afternoon) to reflect and enjoy good music.”

Musical selections will alternate with prayers, readings, and meditations led by ministers Rev. Hilde Seal and Rev. Sophia Ducey – who will draw freely from a variety of sources for thematic inspiration.

READ MORE: Dinah Washington tribute closes out Jazz in the Fort – and the 2010s with New Year’s Eve concert

“Jazz stands for liberal and more democratic life, inviting people to talk and listen,” Szentes added.

“It’s welcoming and provides a welcome alternative to some of the more traditional music associated with the Sunday morning services.”

Admission is by donation, with a suggested donation being $10 per person.

Refreshments and fellowship will follow the vespers.

Two more vesper services will be held on Feb. 16 and March 15, with each one taking place from 4 to 5 p.m.

The February Jazz Vespers will present the Aaron Hardie Quartet, who will play original compositions in the modern jazz tradition.

In March, the UCoL’s Jazz Vespers will feature Inlet Jazz Band, an ever-expanding repertoire from Port Moody that includes more modern jazz tunes and sophisticated popular music.

Anyone is welcome to attend and can find out more at www.unitedchurchesoflangley.ca.

United Churches of Langley is located at 21562 Old Yale Rd.

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Email: ryan.uytdewilligen@langleyadvancetimes.com

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