Interview with Scott Simon on NPR's 'Weekend Edition'

Composer J.J. Wright combines sacred music with jazz for a project based on texts and melodies of Advent. NPR's Scott Simon speaks to him from Rome.

Sacred music and … jazz? One composer's response to Vatican II

"For American composer J.J. Wright, the Second Vatican Council's call to inculturate the Church's ancient musical traditions into “mission territory” – while preserving its unity – is something he has adopted personally with one of his greatest passions: jazz."

 Catholic News Service


J. J. Wright, a student at Notre Dame and the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music, talks about his new album and how he is making his own mark on sacred music.

America Media

Up and coming composer J.J. Wright talks with James Martin, S.J., about his new Christmas album and the future of Catholic sacred music.

"Young composer brings Advent to life with new jazz sacred music CD" - Rome Reports

"Wright has done something that many would consider ill-advised at best or impossible at worst: he has brought together musical strands that seem to have nothing to do with each other, and in so doing, have made them resonate anew. One immediately gains the sense of Wright’s own rootedness in the traditions of chant and hymnody and jazz by the facility and seamlessness with which he transitions from one style to the other and even makes them work simultaneously." - Carolyn Pirtle, Church Life Journal

"J.J. Wright’s ‘O Emmanuel’ mixes it up" - Josephine McKenna, Religion News Service

"In this work, Wright has created something odd and original, entirely arresting but not overweening, exactly the sort of artistic endeavor that creates the response of love that I experienced. " - Michael Rennier, Dappled Things

"Blending a heavenly children’s choir with deft, uncliched arrangements for Chicago’s highly regarded Fifth House Ensemble and his own piano trio, Wright creates a contemporary choral work that is imbued with the true meaning of Christmas."
- Cormac Larkin, The Irish Times

"As you listen more and more carefully to this album, you will realize how outstanding it is. The music here bears the mark of true distinction." - Christopher S. Morrissey, Catholic World Report

"Wright pulls off quite a feat in combining genres including traditional chant, gospel, avant-garde classical, pop and improvised jazz without a single incongruous transition."
- Jack Walton, South Bend Tribune 

"For capturing the sheer warmth, wonder, and innocence of Christmas, pianist, composer, and conductor JJ Wright's suite O Emmanuel is a great place to take refuge."
- C. Michael Bailey, All About Jazz

"O Emmanuel is not merely a “traditional classical” album, however felicitous its accolades in that genre. It eclectically combines traditional hymns, Gregorian chant and liturgical texts with modern classical compositional techniques, occasionally interspersed with jazz and gospel sections...Wright displays clear competence and conversance with all these compositional approaches throughout." - Thomas Mirus, Catholic Culture

"This album debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s Traditional Classical Albums chart- impressive for an album that combines Gregorian chant and jazz piano."
- Mary Kunz Goldman, The Buffalo News

"Heard of the O Antiphons? You’ve never heard them like this!" - Aleteia