Edgar E. “Ed” Summerlin, the tenor saxophonist who was among the earliest composers to combine liturgical music with jazz, died on Tuesday in Rhinebeck, N.Y. He had been hospitalized for several weeks due to complications from cancer treatment. He was 78.
Summerlin was perhaps best known for his 1959 composition, “Requiem for Mary Jo,” widely considered one of the earliest examples of using jazz in a liturgical service. He later penned many other jazz-based liturgical works, including “Episcopal Evensong,” “Jazz Vespers Service” and “Liturgy of the Holy Spirit.”