“Jazz music is an audible expression of life in community. We listen to one another, build off of what we hear, and sometimes move in unexpected directions. We are more together than the sum of our individual selves. We serve each other and our creator. These attributes of Christian community are also true to jazz, so it should not surprise us that jazz is a wonderful form of worship music. We are deeply grateful for the leadership provided by Jon Ailabouni to bring jazz music into our worship at Atonement”
— Pastor Don Wink, Lutheran Church of the Atonement, Barrington, IL


jazz Music and christian life

Whether it's a "blues service" focused on the Psalms of lament or a joyful New Orleans-style rendition of "We Are Walking In The Light of God", jazz music transforms the experience of worship. 



My approach to jazz in worship...

  • is customized for the setting in which it takes place.

  • is integrated with the scripture and theme for the day.

  • emerges from dialogue with the pastors and worship leaders.

  • values congregational singing by using jazz arrangements of familiar hymns and easy-to-learn jazz liturgy settings.

  • features instrumental pieces (prelude, offering, and postlude) written by jazz icons such as Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk, and John Coltrane.

  • facilitates worship using musicians from the congregation or an ensemble of professional jazz artists.

If you are interested in my hymn arrangements or a consultation regarding jazz in worship please contact me.

Follow this link to an article in Living Lutheran magazine about my work.



The following are selected from my collection of 30+ hymn arrangements for congregation, piano, bass, drum set, trumpet, and tenor saxophone. These works and others are available on request:

  • The Doxology (Old 100th)

  • Just A Closer Walk With Thee

  • Be Thou My Vision

  • All Glory Laud and Honor

  • My Lord What A Morning

  • Morning Has Broken

  • What Wondrous Love Is This

  • Great Is Thy Faithfulness

  • He’s God The Whole World 

  • Be Thou My Vision

  • Lord of all Hopefulness

  • Guide My Feet 

  • I Want Jesus To Walk With Me  

  • Jesus Is A Rock

  • My Song Is Love Unknown

  • That Easter Day With Joy Was Bright

  • God Whose Almighty Word

  • For The Beauty of the Earth


"Come Sunday" by Duke Ellington

Zach Bunton, violin; Jon Ailabouni, flugelhorn; Helen Ailabouni, piano; Karl Rosenberg, bass; Peter Mack, drum set

Jazz Worship in the American Context

Jazz music exists because of the lives and work of black Americans (e.g. Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, Mary Lou Williams Miles Davis, Charles Mingus, and John Coltrane). These individuals crafted innovative music in the midst of a society that dehumanized and terrorized black people. Over the course of the 20th century, jazz emerged as a powerful expression of human dignity, sophistication, and soulfulness in the face of oppression. In short, jazz is a rebuke of hate. Bringing jazz into the worship setting connects the life of the Church, through Jesus' resurrection and message of liberation and justice, with the lives of the oppressed, past and present. 




Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Decorah, IA (2019)

Grace Lutheran Church, La Grange, IL (2018-2019)

Luther College, Decorah, IA (2010-2019)

Decorah Unitarian Universalist, Decorah, IA (2019)

New Life Lutheran Church, Dripping Springs, TX (2018)

Lutheran Church of the Atonement, Barrington, IL (2010-2017)

Bethany Lutheran Church, Cherry Hills, CO (2016)

Trinity Lutheran Church, Peoria, IL (2015)

St. John's Lutheran Church, Eau Claire, WI (2013)