JUST A CLOSER WALK WITH THEE
"Just a Closer Walk With Thee" is a traditional gospel song, performed either as an instrumental or vocal song. While the precise author of "Just A Closer Walk With Thee" is unknown, circumstantial evidence suggest it dates back to southern African-American churches of the 19th century. The first known recording was by the Selah Jubilee Singers in October, 1941.
Background and performance tips on
"Just a closer walk with thee"
by mark braud
“Just a Closer Walk With Thee” is one of the most popular hymns played by brass bands. When played at a jazz funeral, this song is typically played as a slow, mournful hymn as the pallbearers bring the body of the deceased out of the church and place the casket in a hearse or horse-drawn carriage. The band begins with a sparse bass and snare drum cadence, which is essential for setting the tempo of a dirge.
I recommend listening to the Young Tuxedo Brass Band’s Jazz Continues (504 Records, Jan. 1, 1984).
In many traditional brass bands, the role of playing the melody is passed from one instrument to the next. The musicians who aren’t playing the melody have an opportunity to improvise. It is very important to keep the melody going in an ensemble of this magnitude in order to avoid the chaotic sound of too many people improvising at once. In this recording, the trumpet takes the melodic role for the first chorus, and then the saxes take over.
Notice the crying sounds of Michael White’s clarinet soaring over the trumpet melody. This effect is used to convey a sense of sadness.
The drums are audible but understated. The snare drum features press rolls (snare off), and the bass drum accents the first beat of every measure. This creates a somber undertone that carries on throughout the song.