This week we are pleased to welcome jazz composer Benje Daneman to Spark and Echo Arts for a new work in response to John 15:13“There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” 


Listen to “To Lay Down One’s Life” by Benje Daneman: 

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From the Artist:

Jesus commands love from his followers (John 15:12, 17). He then goes on to tell them bestway to go about doing it – sacrificially loving (John 15:13). This is the backbone to thegospel – the GOOD news that God loves us unconditionally, and we as His people, are called to exude that love to this world.  Like any good teacher, Christ didn’t tell us something and then not show it himself.  In John 15:13, He not only is explaining the gospel, but He is foretelling His own future – His sacrifice to come, and how that in itself will be the greatest love we can receive when He laid His life down for us.



My goal through “To Lay Down One’s Life” was to essentially musically map out the psychological and spiritual path of sacrificial love.  The piece starts out with a shell of a chord progression.  This specific harmonic movement is prevalent throughout the composition in different forms representing God’s command of “Love” – the driving force behind the sacrificial giving.  As the piece progresses into a stoic call and a confident start, it quickly diminishes into a bit more uncontrolled, off-balanced improvisatory section – representing the sting, loss, turmoil and trials that we eventually feel through our sacrifice. Yet, as believers, our eyes should be set on the horizon, our faith in God, during the storm.  He is present through the dark and hard moments, even when we don’t feel him (as is the “love” progression throughout the piece.  It appears with different tonality and in different meters, but the shell is there mostly throughout).  The composition comes to a conclusion as we reach the other side of the valley – a bit beaten and weary from the journey, but wiser, more mature and understanding God and his faithfulness a bit better.
This track was recorded live by Gordon van Gent (GVG Productions) with Benje Daneman (trumpet), Jeremy Siskind (piano) and Andrew Rathbun (sax).


Benje Daneman, “a very mature and passionate player” (Hall), seeks to find through his performing and compositions a connection between music and real-life.  Following his musical upbringing in Michigan, he attended the prestigious Henry Mancini Institute in Los Angeles (while there, he recorded a grammy nominated album “Elevation” with the HMI Big Band).  Later, while attending Manhattan School of Music, Benje joined the ranks of New York City jazz musicians, performing in noted jazz venues such as Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, Zinc Bar, Kitano and Cornelia Street Café. Benje has toured with trumpeter Doc Severinsen, placed as a finalist in the National Trumpet Competition and performed with the Jose Limon Dance Ensemble. Benje lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan with his wife, Ashley and two daughters, Elise and Rivi.


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