Choose a track to play
00:00 / 00:00
No Work Selected
In 1966, Cantor David Benedict, cantor at Temple Israel in Lawrence, New York, commissioned Kingsley to compose three liturgical settings utilizing jazz. At the time, Kingsley considered it a natural extension of his work in commercial music, even though jazz should properly be viewed as an art form rather than a commercial medium; and he saw the artistic possibilities of infusing sacred music with jazz expression. In connection with a subsequent recording of those pieces, Rabbi Joel Y. Zion wrote that it was altogether reasonable to make use of jazz, as a patently American idiom, in combination with other, peculiarly Jewish features:
Kingsley’s compositions create an amazingly compatible fusion of American jazz idioms and traditional Hebrew character. The exciting syncopated rhythmic inventions of the composer, coupled with his use of the modal strains of Jewish music, result in a new 20th-century American Jewish musical expression.
The original title was Three Hebrew Prayers in a Jazz Idiom. Kingsley later excerpted two of the three settings and retitled the pair Jazz Psalms. The term psalms is used therein in its wider generic sense of “sacred song,” since these are prayers from the Hebrew liturgy, not texts from the biblical Book of Psalms. The Milken Archive recording was made with live jazz musicians, with no synthesized sounds.