The Theodicy Jazz Collective was formed at Oberlin Conservatory in 2006 and grew during residency at the Yale Institute of Sacred Music from 2008 to 2012. The band creates and leads services for a multitude of churches and cathedrals from Los Angeles to London, Minnesota to Mississippi, and offers lectures and workshops at high schools and colleges. Incorporating sounds from the traditions of jazz and gospel music and rhythms from Latin America and Africa, the music is a constant prayer, sometimes a shout of joy, sometimes a call to action, sometimes a cry for hope. Theodicy has provided music for conferences and in communities such as the National Council of Churches, the Washington National Cathedral, The House of Bishops and General Convention of the Episcopal Church, and Canterbury Cathedral.
Members of the collective
Andrew K. Barnett, piano – Hailing from Minnesota, the Rev. Dr. Andrew K. Barnett attended Oberlin College and Conservatory, Yale University’s Environment and Divinity Schools, and Luther Seminary, where he earned a D. Min. in congregational mission and leadership. Andy led Washington National Cathedral’s strategic priority to broaden their liturgical music, expanding the beauty of Anglican tradition while honoring the power of what has come before.
As founding director of the Theodicy Jazz Collective, he has performed broadly across the United States and England, including a commissioned jazz mass (with William Cleary) for Canterbury Cathedral.
As a teacher, Andy is passionate about local and global partnerships, aiming to love God, love our neighbors, and change the world. Beyond work, he loves running, dogs, cooking, and rooting for the Minnesota Twins.
William Z Cleary, alto saxophone – Will Cleary hails from Houston, Texas, where he began his jazz studies at the Summer Jazz Workshop and Houston’s High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. He then obtained his Bachelor of Music degree at the Oberlin Conservatory, studying with Gary Bartz, Robin Eubanks, and Dan Wall. He received his Master of Music degree in 2010 from the Eastman School of Music under the tutelage of Walt Weiskopf and Bill Dobbins, and was the recipient of the Raymond and Maxine Schirmer Prize in Jazz Performance.
Will has played with Slide Hampton, Chuck Mangione, Conrad Herwig, Marvin Stamm, Marcus Belgrave, Charles McPherson, Kim Waters, Bob Sneider, Dave Glasser, and Pat LaBarbera. He has opened for Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, as well as for Jason Moran. Other significant performances include appearances at the Houston International Jazz Festival, the Detroit International Jazz Festival, the Rochester International Jazz Festival, and services at the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine in New York City. He is currently playing and recording with various artists in New Haven, Connecticut, and the surrounding areas.
Imani Grace Cooper, voice – Imani-Grace Cooper is a jazz vocalist with idiom versatility and knowledge from experiences including collegiate studies under the main instruction of 2013 DownBEAT Magazine’s Jazz Education achievement Award recipient, Connaitre Miller. Her enthusiasm for jazz fueled the cultivation of a jazz series at Sankofa Cafe in Washington, D.C., titled Sounds at Sankofa which features a variety of DC jazz legends like Allyn Johnson and Fred Foss. Imani-Grace debuted as a solo artist as the Apollo Theate’’s guest artist during the Annual Harl Jazz Week. Imani-Grace Cooper, as a solo artist and ensemble singer, has shared band stands with Dianne Reeves, Esperanza Spalding, Terri Lyne Carrington, the late George Duke, Al Jarreau, and many more! Imani-Grace services fellow enthusiasts of singing in private voice lessons and can be found singing regularly in Washington, D.C., and surrounding cities.
Sarah Politz, trombone – Professor Politz’s work focuses on popular music in Africa and the diaspora, including brass band music, jazz, and traditional religious practices in Benin. She is preparing a book project tentatively titled “Gangbe: Resonance and Cultural Economy in Benin’s Jazz and Brass Bands.” She performs actively on trombone in and around Boston.
Mike Wade, trumpet – Mike Wade began playing trumpet in his pre teen years. While attending the Duke Ellington School of Arts in Washington, D.C., he received a National Symphony Fellowship to study with symphony trumpeters. He attended Howard University for one year before transferring to Central State University on full scholarship, where he received his bachelor’s in music education. Mike attended The Cincinnati Conservatory of Music Mastering in Classical Trumpet for a year. He is no stranger to the titles of producer, composer, arranger, and educator.
Mike has performed and/or recorded with such artists as David “Fathead” Newman, Clark Terry, Javon Jackson, Bobby Watson, Gary Bartz, Mulgrew Miller, Rene Marie, Don Braden, Steve Wilson, Othello Molineaux, Vincent Herring, Jon Hendricks & Annie Ross, Winard & Phillip Harper, Herb Jeffries, Craig Bailey, Marc Cary, Bill Lee, Ricky Wellman, Bootsy Collins, Reggie Calloway, Teddy Pendergrass, The O’Jays, Maurice, Freddie, and Verdine White (Earth, Wind and Fire), Tom Tom 84, and Experience Unlimited (E.U.). He has performed on Black Entertainment Television (BET) Jazz Discovery show, and WOSU Jazz Voices television series. Mike’s quintet, Standard Time, was the 1997 winner of the Cincinnati Cammy award for Best Small Jazz Group.
Jonathan Parker, tenor saxophone – From New York to China, saxophonist Jonathan Parker has brought a dynamic musicianship to appreciative audiences. As a sideman, bandleader, and teacher, Parker has synthesized a varied musical and educational background as he makes his mark on the contemporary jazz scene.
Based in Brooklyn, New York, Jonathan is an active performer and committed music educator. When not teaching middle school music, he can be found playing around the city with his own ensembles, performing across the country as a sideman and arranging music for various rock and pop ensembles.
Dan Loomis, bass – With more than a decade of performing experience since moving to New York City, Dan Loomis has emerged as a daring leader, a sought-after sideman, and a composer whose view of the world – and willingness to explore his own inner questioning – has led to the creation of innovative and moving works.
Loomis has appeared on nearly a dozen recordings with the Dan Loomis Quartet and with bands he co- leads, including the collectives The Wee Trio and SPOKE. The latter two bands have released critically acclaimed albums in recent years, including SPOKE’s (R)anthems in 2014, and The Wee Trio’s Wee 3 in 2017.
In addition to his work on the bass, he’s no less skilled with a pen, having written several commissioned pieces, including a jazz oratorio based on the Book of Job and another based on the final days of Jesus, both commissioned by St. Peter’s Church in New York. He recently formed an ensemble called REVOLUTIONS that uses its music to explore the Haitian and Bolivarian uprisings, and to comment on the world’s continuing need for a revolution of spirit and action.
Charlie Dye, drums – Charlie Dye is a freelance drummer and educator based out of Hartford, Connecticut. He started playing drums and piano at the age of 10 and has participated in church music throughout his career. He studied Jazz and Classical Percussion at the Eastman School of Music with Rich Thompson and John Beck. He served as Music Director at First Church in Hartland, in East Hartland, Connecticut from 2018 to 2022, and lead worship through a variety of hymns and contemporary songs, while singing at the piano. He currently teaches Pre-K to 5th grade general music at CREC Museum Academy in Bloomfield, Connecticut. In addition to playing with Theodicy Jazz Collective, Charlie plays with the Hartford-area Classic-Rock and R&B band, Vibe Theory. Charlie lives in Collinsville, Connecticut with his wife and aspiring musician son.
Ivan Edwards, drums – Raised in Charleston South Carolina, Ivan began playing drums in his local church where he discovered his gift and love for music. Ivan holds a BA in Classical Percussion Performance from Charleston Southern University and a Graduate degree in Jazz Studies from The University of Southern California where he studied under the tutelage of Peter Erskine, Ndugu Chancler and Aaron Serfaty. Ivan Currently resides in Los Angeles California where he performs locally and internationally.
Wes Smith, alto saxophone – Wes Smith is an in-demand musician who has performed with world famous personalities including Stevie Wonder, Justin Timberlake and Booker T Jones.
Recording projects include “Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge” a Disney Land Resort, Pharrell Williams, Robin Thicke and JLo. Wes Smith performs as both a leader and a sideman throughout the United States.