Recommended readings about the common ground of jazz & spirituality with a focus on the Christian religion. WIll be constantly updated. Recommendations welcome!

Alexander, Stephon. The Jazz of Physics: The Secret Link Between Music and the Structure of the Universe. New York, NY: Basic Books, 2017.

Appel, Alfred. 2004. Jazz Modernism: From Ellington and Armstrong to Matisse and Joyce. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2004.

Armstrong, Louis. In His Own Words. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001.

Arnold, Jonathan. Sacred Music in Secular Society. London: Routledge, 2014.

Atkins, Peter and Emery Schubert. “Are Spiritual Experiences through Music Seen as Intrinsic or Extrinsic?” Religions 5 (2014): 76-89. doi:10.3390/rel5010076.

Atkins, Taylor E., Sacred Swing. The Sacralization of Jazz in the American Bahá‘í Community. American Music 24 (2006), 383–420.

Bakker, Johan. “Tord Gustavsen’s Deeper Standards.” JOHANBAKKER author, art critic, music lover. Accessed November 20, 2019,

Begbie, Jeremy. Theology, Music and Time. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

Berkman, Franya J. “Appropriating Universality: The Coltranes and 1960s Spirituality,” American Studies 48, no. 1 (Spring 2007): 41–62.  doi: 10.1353/ams.0.0000.

Berliner, Paul F. Thinking in Jazz: The Infinite Art of Improvisation. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994.

Bivins, Jason. Spirits Rejoice! Jazz and American Religion. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015.

Bjerstedt, Sven. “Storytelling in Jazz Improvisation - Implications of a Rich Intermedial Metaphor.” PhD diss., Lund University, 2014.

Blumberg, Lynne. “What Happens to the Brain During Spiritual Experiences?” The Atlantic, June 5, 2014.

Böcker, Tobias. “(Anti-)Thesen zu Theologie und Jazz,” Magazin für Theologie und Ästhetik (2004): online pub.

Booker, Vaughn A. “Lift Every Voice and Swing.” New York: New York University Press, 2020.

Borgo, David. “Between Worlds: The Embodied and Ecstatic Sounds of Jazz.” Open Space 5 (2003): 1–8.

Brinton, Daniel G.  “The Origin of Sacred Numbers.” American Anthropologist 7, no. 2 (1894): 168-73.

Brown, Leonard L., John Coltrane and Black America‘s Quest for Freedom. Spirituality and the Music, Oxford 2010.

Brubeck, Dave. “The light in the Wilderness.” Dave Brubeck: Jazz for Human Rights. Accessed January 30, 2020.

Bucher, Rainer. “Gott, das Reden von ihm und das Leben in der späten Moderne: Zur Lage der christlichen Verkündigung.” Bibel und Liturgie 67 (1994): 195­­–202.

Budde, Achim. “Der Sieg des Rituals über die Improvisation.” In Blue Church, edited by Uwe Steinmetz and Alexander Deeg, 19–50. Leipzig: Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, 2018.

Burnim, Mellonee V. and Portia K. Maultsby. African American Music: An Introduction. Abingdon: Routledge, 2015.

Burns, Ken, dir. Jazz. Written by Geoffrey C. Ward, featuring Samuel Jackson, Derek Jacobi, and Wynton Marsalis. Aired January 9, 2001, on PBS.

Capizzi, Christopher Carnell. At the Intersection of Jazz and Catholicism: The Sacred Works of Mary Lou Williams. PhD diss., University of Pittsburgh, 2019.

Casmier, Stephen J./Matthews, Donald h., Why Scatting is like Speaking in Tongues. Postmodern Reflections on Jazz, Pentecostalism and Africomysticism, Literature and Theology 13 (1999), 166–176.

Christian, Laura H. “Tell it like it is.” Thesis, Worship Hamma School of Theology, 1969.

Clements, Carl. “John Coltrane and the Integration of Indian Concepts in Jazz Improvisation.” Jazz Research Journal 2, no. 2 (2009):155–75., 161.

Cohen, Harvey. G. Duke Ellington’s America. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010.

Cordoba, Derick. “Liturgical Jazz: the Lineage of the Subgenre in the Music of Edgar E. Summerlin.” DMA diss., University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, 2017. 

Cordon, Gerry. “Hymns and Visions: The Quiet Fire of Tord Gustavsen and Simin Tander.” That’s How the Light Gets In, March 14, 2016. Accessed January 17, 2020.

Costen, Melva Wilson, In Spirit and in Truth. The Music of African American Worship, Louisville, KY 2004.

Cox, Harvey, Jazz and Pentecostalism. Archives de sciences sociales des religions 38 (1993), 181–188.

Crawford, Nathan, Theology as Improvisation. A Study in the Musical Nature of Theological Thinking, Leiden 2013.

Dahl, Linda, Morning Glory. A Biography of Mary Lou Williams, New York, NY 1999.

DeVito, Chris, ed. Coltrane on Coltrane - The John Coltrane Interviews. Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 2012.

Donnellan, Terence, director. “Portraits of Faith: Ike Sturm and the Jazz Church.” Net TV Catholic Station, November 6, 2014. YouTube video, 26:46.

Duke University. “Duke Initiatives in Theology and the Arts.” Accessed February 23, 2016.

Duke University Chapel. “Archives and recordings.” Accessed February 23, 2016.

Durham University. “International Network for Music Theology.” Accessed February 23, 2016.

Edwards, Elise M., The Jazz Aesthetic as a Model for Theological Discourse, in: ARTS 22 (2011), 37–42.

Ellington, Duke. “Jazz in America.” Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz. Accessed September 12, 2019.

Ellis, Carl f., Free at Last. The Gospel in the African-American Expe- rience, Westmont, IL 1995.

Empire, Kitty. “Kamasi Washington review – spiritual sax that packs a punch.” The Guardian, May 5, 2018.

Fermor, Gotthard, Extasis. Das religiose Erbe in der Popmusik als Herausforderung an die Kirche, Stuttgart 1999.

Fermor, Gotthard/Gutmann, Hans-Martin/Schroeter, Harald (Hg.), Theophonie. Grenzgange zwischen Theologie und Musik, Rheinbach 2000.

Frangou, Chris. “Hybrid Music: Mulatu Astatke's Yekatit Ethio Jazz.” Bachelor’s Thesis, Southern Cross University, 2016.

Gelinas, Robert, Finding the Groove. Composing a Jazz-Shaped Faith, Aurora, CO 2012.

Gensel, John Garcia. “The Shepherd of the Night Flock.” Documentary Educational Resources. Accessed January 12, 2019.

Georgii, Christoph/Rink, Beat/Steinmetz, Uwe (Hg.), The Real Faith- book of Great Hymns. 150 beruhmte Chorale in 300 Jazzarrangements fur Laien und Profimusiker, Gemeinde und Konzertsaal, Basel 2012.

Giddins, Gary. Visions of Jazz. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998.

Gioia, Ted. The History of Jazz, 3rd Edition. New York: Oxford University Press, 2021.

Giordan, Giuseppe and Enzo Pace, eds. Mapping Religion and Spirituality in a Postsecular World. Boston: Brill, 2012.

Greenland, Thomas H., Jazzing. New York City‘s Unseen Scene, Chicago, IL 2016.

Gridley, Mark C., and Wallace Rave. “Towards Identification of African Traits in Early Jazz.” The Black Perspective in Music 12, no. 1 (1984): 45-56. doi:10.2307/1214968.

Griffis, Michael P. “Liturgy as Embodied Informal Education for Identity Re-formation: Luther’s 1523 and 1526 Liturgical Reforms.” Christian Education Journal: Research on Educational Ministry 16, no. 2 (January 2019): 202–225.

Grigsby Bates, Karen. “Elling’s Vocal Version of Coltrane’s ‘Resolution’.” Day to Day, NPR. First broadcast December 19, 2003.

Harmless s. J./J. William, A Love Supreme. Augustine‘s „Jazz“ of Theology, in: Augustinian Studies 43 (2012), 149–177.

Harris, Doug, director. “Speaking in Tongues.” Feature film, United Kingdom, 1987. Accessed through the Library of Congress, January 20, 2020.

Harris, Michael W. The Rise of Gospel Blues: The Music of Thomas Andrew Dorsey in the Urban Church. New York: Oxford University Press, 1994.

Harrison, Carol. “Songs without words: some theological reflections on liturgical jazz.” In Blue Church, edited by Uwe Steinmetz and Alexander Deeg, 85–104. Leipzig: Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, 2018.

Harvey, Mark Sumner. “Jazz Ministry in Manhattan: The Shepherd, the Nightflock and the First Church of Jazz.” In Religion and Art in the Heart of Modern Manhattan, edited by Aaron Rosen, 157–182. Farnham: Ashgate, 2018.

Harvey, Jonathan. In Quest of Spirit: Thoughts on Music. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999.

Heelas, Paul. “The Spiritual Revolution: From Religion to Spirituality” in Religions in the modern world, edited by Linda Woodhead (New York: Routledge, 2002), 412–36.

Heining, Duncan. George Russell: The Story of an American Composer. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2009.

Howison, Jamie, God‘s Mind in that Music. Theological Explorations through the Music of John Coltrane, Eugene, OR 2012.

Hum, Peter. “From the Jazzblog archives: The Brian Blade interview.” Ottawa Citizen, July 31, 2014.

Iyer, Vijay. “Exploding the Narrative in Jazz Improvisation.” In Uptown Conversation: The New Jazz Studies, edited by Robert G. O’Meally, Brent Hayes Edwards, and Farah Jasmine Griffin, 393-403. New York: Columbia University Press, 2004.

Iyer, Vijay. “Embodied Mind, Situated Cognition, and Expressive Microtiming in African-American Music.” Music Perception 19, no. 3 (2002): 387–414.

Iyer, Vijay. “Microstructures of Feel, Macrostructures of Sound: Embodied Cognition in West African and African-American Musics.” PhD diss., University of California Berkeley, 1998.

Jackson, Jerma A. Singing in My Soul: Black Gospel Music in a Secular Age. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2004.

Jackson, Travis A., Blowin’ the Blues Away. Performance and Meaning on the New York Jazz Scene, Berkeley, CA 2012.

Jewell, Derek. Duke: A Portrait of Duke Ellington. New York: Norton, 1977.

Jones, Olive, and George Russell. “A New Theory for Jazz.” The Black Perspective in Music 2, no. 1 (1974): 63-74, doi:10.2307/1214151.

Johnson, David. “Sacred Blue: Jazz Goes to Church in the 1960s.” Night Lights Classic Jazz Blog: Indiana Public Media.  December 23, 2019.

Julien, Olivier, and Christophe Levaux, eds. Over and Over: Exploring Repetition in Popular Music. New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2018.

Kahn, Ashley. A Love Supreme. London: Penguin Books, 2002. 

Kernodle, Tammy Lynn. Soul on Soul: The Life and Music of Mary Lou Williams. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 2004.

Khan, Nusra. “Abdullah Ibrahim and the Politics of Jazz in South Africa.” South African History Online, accessed February 19, 2020.

Kubik, Gerhard. “The African Matrix in Jazz Harmonic Practices.” Black Music Research Journal 25, nos. 1 – 2 (Spring – Fall, 2005), 167-222.

Leonard, Neil, Jazz. Myth and Religion, Oxford/New York, NY 1987.

Lomax, Alan. “Run Old Jeremiah.” Recording for the Library of Congress, 1934.

Love, Andrew Cyprian, Musical Improvisation, Heidegger, and the Liturgy. A Journey to the Heart of Hope, Lewiston, NY 2003.

Martin, Henry and Keith Waters. Essential Jazz: The First 100 Years. 3rd Edition. Boston: Schirmer Cengage Learning, 2011.

“McIntosh County Shouters.” Film recording for the Library of Congress. Accessed January 10, 2021.

Meline, Gabe. “From the Club to the Cathedral: Revisiting Duke Ellington’s Controversial ‘Sacred Concert’.” KQED, September 14, 2015. Accessed January 20, 2020.

Metzer, David, Shadow Play. The Spiritual in Duke Ellington‘s „Black and Tan Fantasy“, in: Black Music Research Journal 17 (1997), 137–158.

Modirzadeh, Hafez. “Aural Archetypes and Cyclic Perspectives in the Work of John Coltrane and Ancient Chinese Music Theory.” Black Music Research Journal 21, no. 1 (Spring, 2001), 75–106.

Moldt, Dirk. Zwischen Haß und Hoffnung: die Blues-Messen 1979 – 1986. Berlin: Robert Havemann Gesellschaft, 2008.

Murchison, Gayle, Mary Lou Williams‘s Hymn „Black Christ of the Andes“ (St. Martin de Porres). Vatican II, Civil Rights, and Jazz as Sacred Music, in: The Musical Quarterly 86 (2002), 591–629.118

Oberlin College Conservatory Library. “James R. and Susan Neumann Jazz Collection.” Accessed February 10, 2020.

Partridge, Christopher H., The Lyre of Orpheus. Popular Music, the Sacred, and the Profane, Oxford 2014.

Pederson, Ann, God, Creation, and All That Jazz. A Process of Composition and Improvisation, St. Louis, MO 2001.

Pellegrinelli, Lara. “O Brothers: Drummers Brian and Brady Blade.” A Blog Supreme from NPR Jazz. December 10, 2013. blade.

Porcu, Silvana. “The Vespers – Have a Little Faith in Jazz.” Accessed June 30, 2019.

Porter, Lewis. John Coltrane: His Life and Music. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1998.

Porter, Lewis. “A Deep Dive into John Coltrane's 'A Love Supreme' by His Biographer, Lewis Porter: Part 1." WBGO Sunday with Leslie Harrison, July 17, 2020.

Porter, Lewis Porter. “‘They Did Not Die in Vain’: On ‘Alabama,’John Coltrane Carefully Wrought Anguish Into Grace.” WBGO Sunday with Leslie Harrison November 18, 2020.

Ratliff, Ben. “John G. Gensel, 80, the Pastor to New York's Jazz Community.” New York Times, February 8, 1998, 42.

Reney, Tom. “Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Jazz and the Freedom Movement.” New England Public Radio. Broadcast January 15, 2018. Accessed January 1, 2020.

Reutter, Hermann. “Drum,” Song of America. Accessed January 20, 2020.

Rosenbaum, Art. Shout Because You’re Free: The African American Ring Shout Tradition in Coastal Georgia. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1998.

Rowland, Steve. Tell me how long Trane´s been gone ­– A five hour- audio documentary on the life, music and legacy of composer and saxophonist John Coltrane. First broadcast April 26 to May 24, 2001. For full details of the production, see

Rush, Steve/Hamilton, Reid, Better Get It In Your Soul. What Liturgists Can Learn from Jazz, New York, NY 2008.

Saliers, Don E., Music and Theology, Nashville, TN 2010.

Scharen, Christian, Broken Hallelujahs. Why Popular Music Matters to Those Seeking God, Ada 2011.

Scheidegger, Martin.ReviewBlue Church: Improvisation als Klangfarbe des Evangelischen Gottesdienstes.” Theologische Literaturzeitung 9 (2019): 964–66.

Schimmel, Johannes C. Jazz. Gelnhausen: Burckhardthaus-Verlag, 1962.

Schimmel, Johannes C. Spirituals & Gospelsongs. Gelnhausen: Burckhardthaus-Verlag, 1963.

Spencer, Jon Michael. Protest and Praise: Sacred Music of Black Religion. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1990.

Steed, Janna Tull, Duke Ellington. A Spiritual Biography, New York, NY 1999.

Steinmetz, Uwe. “Fragile Faith – The Jazz Stage as a Space for Religious Imagination in a Postsecular World,” Poetics Today 41, no. 3 (Durham: Duke University Press, 2020), 417–36, doi: 10.1215/03335372-8519656.

Steinmetz, Uwe. “Luthers Erben und das Unbehagen vor der spielerischen Dissonanz der Freiheit des Jazz.” In Religion.Geist.Musik. pop.religion: lebensstil – kultur – theologie,  ed.  Hans Martin Dober and Frank Thomas Brinkmann, 243–270. Wiesbaden: Springer, 2019.

Steinmetz, Uwe, and Alexander Deeg. Blue Church. Leipzig: Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, 2018.

Steinmetz, Uwe. Jazz in Worship and Worship in Jazz. ART MONITOR 86, Unviersity of Gothenburg, PhD dissertation. Steady handle:

Stuckey, Sterling, The Music That Is in One‘s Soul. On the Sacred Origins of Jazz and the Blues, in: Lenox Avenue. A Journal of Interarts Inquiry, Vol. 1 (1995), S. 73–88.

Taylor, Billy. “Jazz: America's Classical Music.” The Black Perspective in Music 14, no. 1 (1986): 21-25. Accessed February 7, 2021. doi:10.2307/1214726.

Taylor, Billy, The Jazz Life of Dr. Billy Taylor. Bloomington, IN 2013.

Taylor, Cecil. “John Coltrane.” Jazz Review 2, no. 1 (January 1959): 34.

Tress, Benjamin. “The Jazz and People’s Movement,” eScholarhip@BC: More Reach for your Research. accessed January 20, 2021.

University of Chicago Library. “Chicago Jazz Archive.” Accessed February 9, 2020.

Versace, Angelo. “The Evolution of Sacred Jazz as Reflected in the Music of Mary Lou Williams, Duke Ellington, John Coltrane and Recognized Contemporary Sacred Jazz Artists.” DMA diss., University of Miami, 2013.

Voss, Dan. “Venus.” Accessed November 12, 2020.

Weisenfeld, Judith. “Religion in African American History.” In The Oxford Research Encyclopedia of American History. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015.

Whyton, Tony, Beyond a Love Supreme. John Coltrane and the Legacy of an Album, Oxford 2013.

Williams, Reggie. Bonhoeffer’s Black Jesus: Harlem Renaissance Theology and an Ethic of Resistance. Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2014.

Wilson, John S. “Mary Lou Williams, at Piano, Leads Her Jazz Mass at St. Patrick's.” The New York Times, February 19, 1975, 75.

Yale University. “Institute of Sacred Music.” Accessed February 23, 2016.

Zambito, Tony. “The Essay by Martin Luther King, Jr. That Lives Large In Jazz.” Accessed March 15, 2020.


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