09/18/06

Shakers n' Bakers fuses Shaker music and jazz

The Shaker religion is most commonly known for the celibacy of its devout followers, its simple and sturdy furniture and, perhaps most of all, its dwindling popularity. But a lesser-known Shaker fact is this: They absolutely loved to get down.

Music was an essential part of their religious experience; spiritual gifts could be manifested in musical revelations, and they even had their own form of musical notation to record it all. The Shakers composed thousands of songs, often consisting of syllables and words from imaginary tongues (doesn’t sound too far from the jazz scat, no?).

Now after all this time, musical worlds have collided on 2006’s Shakers n’ Bakers, a new release on Little (i) Music. The group consists of Mary LaRose (vocals, pictured), Miles Griffith (vocals), Jeff Lederer (saxophone and clarinet), Jamie Saft (electric harpsichord), Chris Lightcap (bass) and Allison Miller (drums). Researched in the Shaker archives and performed in the languages of inspiration, the 12-track record explores the surprising and previously untapped relationship between jazz and Shaker music. Just don’t let it get you too excited, for the Shakers were a modest bunch, after all. For more information, check out littleimusic.com.

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