Jazz & Gospel
Dr David Önaç – MA(Cantab), MPhil, MMus, LRSM, PhD
Jazz in childhood
This interest continued in high school in the UK, when David discovered and was inspired by the playing of Oscar Peterson, started to make his own jazz arrangements of familiar melodies like the ‘Bananas in Pyjamas’ themetune, and worked on ostensibly unrelated areas of theory and technique like emulating guitar grooves for church songs or LH walking basslines or ridiculously complex reharmonisations of ‘Heart and Soul’.
Jazz at university
Continuing his postgraduate academic music studies in composition in Manchester, David spent a good proportion of his spare time at numerous jam sessions and standards gigs, as well as forming a jazz quintet called The Onac Collective with fellow students, and participating in various projects with other student groups (you can listen to a couple examples in the playlist opposite). He also started accompanying the University of Manchester Harmony Gospel Choir. In retrospect, this was a hugely significant return to the genre of gospel (specifically) and laid the foundation for later projects which included both jazz and gospel elements.
The return of gospel
Since 2015, while continuing as MD of Manchester Harmony Gospel Choir, David has also been MD for Voices Beyond Gospel Collective. This period has seen more high profile performances, increasing integration of jazz and gospel styles both in David’s playing and composing/arranging, and the gradual development of a sound with a more modern edge.
Please click the bold links on the right to read about or listen to a selection of projects from the past few years
- BBC Songs of Praise Gospel Choir of the Year televised finals (arrangement & keys, Manchester Harmony Gospel Choir, 2016)
- ‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen’ (arrangement & keys, Voices Beyond Gospel Collective, 2017)
- University Gospel Choir of the Year finals (arr & keys, Harmony Gospel Choir, 2018)
- Wayne Ellington sings Nat King Cole (transcription & keys, national tour, 2016-18)
- Manchester Jazz Festival – hothouse development scheme (co-writer, arr & keys, Voices Beyond, 2018)
- ‘O Come All Ye Faithful’ (arr & keys, Voices Beyond, 2019)
- ‘Mary Did You Know?’ (lockdown recording: arr, production & keys, Harmony Gospel Choir, 2020)
- ‘Lord I Lift Your Name On High’ & ‘Agnus Dei’ for BBC Radio 4 Easter Sunrise Service (lockdown recording: arr, prod & keys, Voices Beyond, 2021)
- ‘Freedom’ commercial single (co-writer, arr, prod & keys, Voices Beyond, 2022)