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The Gig: Jacob Garchik’s ‘Atheist Gospel Trombone Album’

Recording the "unrecordable'

Nate Chinen
Jacob Garchik

Not too long ago, Jacob Garchik had what I’m going to slyly describe as a road-to-Damascus moment-in a record store, naturally, that being one of the few habitats he might claim as a place of worship. Garchik, a trombonist, accordionist and composer of catholic interests, stumbled across Saints’ Paradise, a Smithsonian Folkways compilation featuring the trombone shout bands of the United House of Prayer for All People. He took the album home, heard some high-impact testimony-by groups like the Clouds of Heaven and McCollough Sons of Thunder-and on some level he was changed.

“I became fascinated by gospel music,” Garchik, 35, recently recalled. “There’s this element that spoke to me: It’s kind of a forbidden fruit, or a guilty pleasure. Because, well, for one thing I was raised Jewish. I always had this feeling like whenever you heard the word ‘Jesus,’ if you’re raised Jewish and went to public school, you’re on high alert that people are going to try to indoctrinate you.” Then, of course, there was his atheism. “If I hear music and I really like it, I want to play it,” he said. “I was thinking, how could somebody who doesn’t believe in this stuff play the music-or should they?”

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