Ghost Dance 2002
Some members of the new house band
Deep River

The band Spirit Jazz, led by pianist/composer Keith Harrison-Broninski, plays jazz reinventions of spirituals, gospel and African chant - originals, standards and traditional pieces.  As well as Keith on piano, Spirit Jazz features Craig Crofton on soprano/tenor sax, Dave Griffiths on double bass, and Kevin O’Rourke on drums.

Our first CD, Deep River, is a live recording taken from the sell-out concert in Frome Festival 2004.   See below for music clips from both this concert and the similar concert given a year later for Frome Festival 2005 - again to a packed house.

Photos from 2005
Music clips from 2005
Music clips from 2004
Liner notes from the CD

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Photos from 2005

Click on the link or the thumbnail to see the full size, high-resolution image.

Keith Harrison-Broninski (piano) and Dave Griffiths (double bass)

Craig Crofton (saxophones) and Kevin O’Rourke (drums)

Keith Harrison-Broninski

Music clips from 2005

About half of the music we played in 2005 was new. In particular, here are 3 pieces that do not appear on our first CD. In each case you have a choice of streaming or downloading the MP3s (streaming avoids having to wait).

Music clips from 2004

Here are a couple of tracks from the 2004 concert. In each case you have a choice of streaming or downloading the MP3s (streaming avoids having to wait).

Buy the CD

Liner notes from the CD

This music is drawn from a deep river.

Gospel, spirituals and African chant have always been driving forces behind jazz.  They were the foundation of the hard bop movement which brought jazz back into the mainstream in the 1950's, underpin the work of major figures such as Charles Mingus and John Coltrane, and are reflected in many songs from the standard repertoire - God Bless The Child, which appears on this album, is a typical example. They have also been an influence on all sorts of other music, from classical to country to rock, either directly or via their descendant form the blues.

Spirit Jazz is a jazz quartet, led by composer/pianist Keith Harrison-Broninski, that draws directly from this tradition.  We play a mixture of authentic early material and new compositions inspired by it.

Awake (Harrison-Broninski) starts on a vamp in a "township" groove, influenced by the joyful music of the expatriate South African jazz players who came to London in the 1970's, fleeing apartheid. The tune is in AAB song form - the piano takes the lead in a bridge section which leads into a blues, and the double bass kicks off the improvisation.

Deep River (Burleigh) and Old Man River (Kern/Hammerstein) are piano solos. They lead straight from one into another, and then the full band joins in for God Bless The Child - whose lyrics by Billie Holiday, reflecting her own miserable childhood, must count amongst the saddest ever written:

Yet the strong gets more while the weak ones fade
Empty pockets don’t ever make the grade
Momma may have, Poppa may have,
But God bless the child that’s got his own.

Waiting For My Train To Come (Harrison-Broninski) is another township-influenced piece.  This time there is a darker undercurrent, hinted at by a concluding section which changes to the minor key.

The Lord Is Listening To Ya, Hallelujah! is a lovely tune by jazz composer Carla Bley. The piece is not in a standard form, although its 3-part structure suggests the blues, and the harmony shifts constantly - but somehow it captures the essence of gospel. Craig Crofton on tenor saxophone is featured.

Go Down, Moses (trad.) is first mentioned in Maryland in the late eighteenth century.  It was a popular slave song, sung throughout the South by slaves while they worked, during their occasional times of rest and prayer, and by abolitionists to signal escape or rebellion.  We play it in a modal, Coltrane-influenced arrangement, with a double-time chorus also used as a cue by soloists. Dave Griffiths on double bass has a solo feature.

The Mountain is one of Abdullah Ibrahim's most moving compositions, originally released on an album called "Water From an Ancient Well".  Which brings us back to where we started - the source of this music goes back a long way, and something in it runs through us all.

This recording was made at a late night candlelit concert given in the beautiful St John's Church, Frome, Somerset.  We would like to thank Martin Bax of Frome Festival for asking us to perform, Revd Colin Alsbury of St John's for all his help with the arrangements, Neil Edgson who recorded the concert and mastered this album, and our audience for their appreciation both during and ever since the performance.

Deep River, my home is over Jordan
Deep River, Lord
I want to cross over into campground.
Oh don't you want to go
To that gospel feast,
That promised land
Where all is peace.

Liner notes and sleeve design by Keith Harrison-Broninski