These are times of the miniskirt, megaton, macro-riot, and Mayan. They present new problems that demand new answers. It's apparent to many that the old solutions may or may not have been adequate for resolving old problems, but it's blatantly clear that old solutions are not going to provide the needed answers for today's principal hangups. People are overturning values and searching out new approaches to coping with the pressures and demands of modern accelerated society. Much of this groping and searching and frustration I have witnessed being captured by sensitive jazz artists that have played in my jazz club, the Bohemian Caverns in Washington, D.C. Seven years in this business brings a man into contact with a very wide range of people with an equally wide range of stories to tell. My experience has been that the successful performers are those who have a truly perceptive and honest message or approach. There's no room for phonies anymore, especially over the long haul. It's with the above as something of a background that I want to introduce one of the very honest and genuine men I have had the pleasure of being associated with for the past year or so, The Reverend Jack Herrera. Pastor Herrera is another man of the cloth who is making a thrust at finding answers through the use of religion and jazz.
On the surface this seems an odd marriage, but history reveals that religion in the past was based on the same elements that jazz now thrives on. First, rhythm and music was the basis for most religious rites. Secondly, improvisation was common and approved. Thirdly, religion was very worldly in many of the issues it attempted to deal with. It was only after centuries of "sophistication" that religion began to represent a movement that was rather rigid, and totally "other worldly." Pastor Herrera now leads a growing nucleus of clergymen who are seeking to understand today's problems through today's tools and values.
Pastor Herrera has chosen human love and jazz as one avenue to pursue in his attempt to bring greater understanding to those with whom he ministers. In combining these two elements, he brings about a marriage between a desirable intangible and a modern day reality. Furthermore, he brings religion to people in a form that they relate to naturally, rather than through a medium which by its very stiffness and rigidity alienates people. As I suggested above, Pastor Herrera is not the only person undertaking this kind of work, but what is unique about Jack Herrera is the quality and qualifications he brings to his work. At the age of eight he started on clarinet and soon became well-known for his ability. Involved in music and art during his high school years, he soon had his own bands and was working the local night spots and most of the school dances. He received a B.A. in music from Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania and during this period, he picked up more work with larger and some name bands, playing all the wood winds. In 1952, he entered military service and played in Army bands.
He graduated from the Navy School of Music in 1953 and in 1955 returned to Gettysburg where he entered the Lutheran Theological Seminary, receiving his B.D. degree in 1958. From that time until now he has been actively creating new forms of worship. From this background comes a man who has seen life in some of its more basic and debased forms. It was this that caused him to seek out a reservoir of love within himself to help fill the void of love he found in the lives of others. It is my contention that what has resulted is a liberated kind of religious experience that applies itself to today. In recording some of these religious services live we are providing an opportunity for people other than those who have experienced his well-attended services to share in this moving and satisfying experience. In doing the kind of thing that Pastor Herrera does, it is extremely important that the musicians that work with him in fact do just that-work with him. The Trio ESP is superbly prepared to do this. They are a very sensitive and talented group with a depth of understanding and insight.
The group includes Gene Rush, piano; Steve Novosel, bass and Jimmy Hopps, percussion. This man and his work got to me and I'm hoping that you will allow yourself to let him reach you. It's an experience you will never regret.
Father Herrera & The Trio ESP - So What
By Electric Looser