Jazz, the sophisticated, mellow genre known to attract professionals between the ages of 30 and 65, is the perfect hook for Plymouth's Wednesday lunchtime services. The Gig for God begins exactly at noon, without a clergyman in sight. The trio behind the altar starts up a bluesy version of "Holy Land." Susan Pascal, classically-trained and demure, waxes the vibraphone with four mallets at a time. The nightclub veteran Phil Sparks, plunking and bowing at the stand-up bass, gives a nod to Murl Allen Sanders. Sanders, a multi-instrumentalist with Seattle's largest glamrock hairdo, picks up the tune on the grand piano.
One by one, the faithful trickle in. Although the occasional power tie can be seen, the targeted corporate audience is outnumbered by casually dressed regulars. By the time the second tune, "Water from an Ancient Well," starts cooking, the pews are creaking under the shifting weight of some 30 congregants. Susan Pascal takes a soft-handed vibes solo and hands off to Sanders, whose fast fingers and bright voicings pull the assembly further into the groove. The trio gently squeezes the song to an end, and the toe-tapping stops without a touch of applause. It's 12:10 p.m., and the Reverend Tony Robinson has arrived.
Reverend Robinson, with a booming, fatherly voice, preaches the story of Saul's conversion and recalls a time when Christians where persecuted, yadda yadda. There's time for a quick nap before the trio breaks in with a buttery version of "Nearer My God to You." It's 12:40, and the trio is going to finish things with an instrumental take on "Creator God We Sing." At the end of the set the applause finally breaks out. Although Jazz Worship Wednesdays are designed to bring God to the Godless, the fine trio has also done the important work of bringing jazz to the jazzless.