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L.A. Beat

Jazz vespers combines music with religion and honours Evelyn Beattie

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Lethbridge saxophonist  David Renter has been pleasantly surprised by the response to Jazz Vespers, which combines music with religion. The jazz vespers concert series has been happening for the past two weeks at the Southminster Church.Dave Renter playing a benefit for Haiti at the Slice, Feb. 27. Photo by Richard Amery
“This is an interesting performance featuring my quartet. We play three or four jazz pieces, so it is a focus on jazz music ,” said Renter, just before going on stage for a well attended fundraiser for Haiti at the Slice, Feb. 26.
Jazz Vespers also features a gospel  choir  formed by one of Renter’s students, Mwansa Mwansa.
“We thought that was a great idea, so we thought we’d have them perform a couple of times.”
Jazz vespers is also a tribute to  Renter’s grandmother, Evelyn Beattie, who passed away in 2008 and who was a huge contributor to music at the Southminster Church.
“She loved music and played organ at Southminster. It is a tribute to her,” Renter said adding Lottie Austin approached him with this idea.
“It is like a church service, so there are scripture readings but they are all related to music. It’s a little different than a typical church service to have this much music ,” Renter continued adding the past two jazz vespers, which are about 45 minutes in length, attracted between 80-100 people.
“It’s been really good. So we’re pretty sure we’ll  keep it going. We’ve had a lot of people who are older but also a lot of younger people there,” observed Renter, who teaches music at the university.
“I think it is surprising, because  when you say it is about jazz, you don’t expect a lot of people,” he continued.
“But it’s a testament to my grandmother’s involvement with the church. So it is a nice way to keep her memory alive,” he said.
“It’s as much about her as it is about people gathering together,” he said.
 The last jazz vespers takes place at 4 p.m., March 7 at the Southminster Church.
A version of this story appeared in the March 3 edition of  the Lethbridge Sun Times
— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
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