During the iniquitous ‘slave trade’, Africans were shipped to the ‘New World’ under the most appalling conditions. Upon arrival in America they developed new work songs in the language that was forced upon them and, after conversion to Christianity, attended ’Camp Meetings’ where crowds in excess of 25,000 would congregate. In this way gospel hymns and songs became blended with the natural African rhythms and, from this, the slaves composed their own gospel songs which would tell of a ‘better life’ in the next world. As jazz music has developed over the last hundred years, the ‘Spiritual’ has always kept a prominent position in the repertoire of most bands.

With Chris Walker in the band the Real Ale & Thunder Band presented their first “Jazz At Vespers” on 18th November 1984 in Downton and, following that success and appearances in Salisbury Cathedral, Wimborne Minster and on one of the most popular BBC “Songs Of Praise” programmes, they became the fore-runner of many religious concerts by jazz bands in Churches across England.

The original concept, however, was that the congregation should be encouraged to join in and sing along – as would happen, around the turn of the 20th Century, at American ‘Camp Meetings’ and still happens today in Churches across the southern states of America.

With this in mind Chris Walker & The Pedigree Jazzband  have produced this programme to rekindle that enthusiasm and fire, which is so infectious that songs of praise become moving, exciting and, at the same time, sincere vehicles of worship.

Today’s repertoire is drawn from both European Hymns and original Spirituals and they are performed in keeping with the long tradition of jazz and gospel music.