I am an avid fan of Koinonia since I first heard their music in mid-80s until now. I’m always quite amazed by the way they create and play music.
It’s quite a blessing to see video clips of their performances on YouTube. They are all virtuoso composers, players and performers.
The instrumental progression, artistic variation, and synchronization speaks of how instruments and artists communicate to create great sounds.
You’ve got to watch their video above, “Countin`n The Cost” to know what I mean.
For me, I see the group as quite revolutionary considering that the jazz genre was more known and recognized in the secular world, moreso in the 80s.
In fact, some people would readily relate jazz, especially smooth jazz music, to sensual and intimate images.
Thus, Koinonia, although appreciated by many jazz enthusiasts in the secular and religious streams, did not become very popular in mainstream Christian music.
Koinonia is a Christian fusion jazz group composed of musicians who are considered legendary in their musical field. Below are a couple of notes I gathered about the group.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
In the 1970s and 80’s, a fusion in jazz music occurred giving birth to a new, more electrified and diverse genre called jazz-funk. Some notable pioneers in this genre were: The Crusaders, Weather Report, Herbie Hancock, Alphonse Mouzon, Chick Corea, Lee Ritenour, Azymuth, Eumir Deodato, Jeff Lorber,Seawind, and Koinonia.
Though less known in the United States, Koinonia established themselves as a huge sensation in Scandinavia and Western Europe, performing to sell-out crowds from 1982 to 1991 in Norway, Denmark, Holland, Sweden, Finland, Germany, Switzerland and France.
Their Latin-infused rhythms and upbeat melodies gave them a distinct and cultured sound. Taken from a Greek word used in the Bible to mean “intimate fellowship” Koinonia was notably one of the first Christian, though primarily instrumental, jazz bands.
The original members of the band, which formed in 1980, were: (leader) classically trained guitarist, Abraham Laboriel on electric bass guitar, child-prodigy drummer Bill Maxwell, Dean Parks on guitar, Alex Acuña on percussion and drums, John Phillips on woodwinds, Hadley Hockensmith on guitar, and Harlan Rogers on keyboards. In 1981 the saxophone/clarinet & flute virtuoso Justo Almario, replaced John Phillips.
Dean Parks also left at that time because he did not want to travel. Chester Thompson joined one tour in Europe in 1987, replacing Alex, but he was never a member of the band. In 1988, Lou Pardinijoined the band on keyboards and vocals, and then, Koinonia disbanded in 1991.
A blend of fusion and west coast music….
They had their first live performance at the legendary club “Baked Potato” in 1980 in Los Angeles. The “original” band consisted of Abraham Laboriel on bass, Bill Maxwell on drums, Harlan Rogers on keys, Hadley Hockensmith and Dean Parks on guitar, John Phillips on woodwinds and Alex Acuna on percussion. At some stage Dean Parks left, and they replaced John Phillips with Justo Almario.
With 4 albums they became the first christian group that combined fusion with touch of west coast. All members are highly rated as some of the best musicians at their individual instruments and they have been recorded thousands of albums as studio musicians.