Revered Chicago Jazz Musician John Moulder At Transient Sound

Few would argue music’s role in transcending troubles and soothing a nation’s soul.

John Moulder, revered Chicago jazz musician, university professor, and former Catholic priest knows just that power and wields it for good.

Over the years, Moulder has gathered a great diversity of musicians together “for the sake of our souls and our city” and woven soulful themes into all of his work.

Moulder is especially fond of the Earthborn Tales of Soul and Spirit project he did with Transient Sound. Commissioned by the Jazz Institute of Chicago, Earthborn was performed in Millennium Park after debuting in smaller venues around the city.

Earthborn has its roots in the soil of the turbulent 1960s but is a much-needed balm for today’s troubled times as well.

“[The album was inspired by] people who impressed me with their soulfulness or their spirit. They’re fairly diverse, but I found myself drawing from the 1960s. One part was in dedication to John Coltrane and his sprit in creating music, in pursuing the spiritual quest in and through music. That always inspired me about his work.

One of Moulder’s favorite themes is the indomitable human spirit…

I created a suite for Ruby Bridges who was the first African American girl to desegregate the schools in New Orleans in the early 1960s. She was the first to go to an all-white school. The story, as it was told by Robert Coles, a child psychiatrist who assisted the family during that time, always stuck with me – it had to do with her indomitable spirit, her generosity and charity as she walked every day through a screaming mob of people.

I was inspired by not only her ability to do it, but the inner spiritual strength she had in doing it. That was really kind of a marvel to behold.

It was the spirit in which she walked that inspired the piece “Ruby’s Way.”

And when you create songs about such sacred topicis, you don’t trust the recording to just anyone.

When you have poured your heart into a project, and you come to the studio, you want to work with people who will capture and honor the essence of that.

You want to find someone who connects not only as a professional in the recording and mixing level, but also as a fellow musician, and even more deeply, can help pull out and represent what you’re ready to lay out on the table.

Vijay and I met years ago as gigging jazz musicians. I have great respect for him as a piano and keyboard player. He’s got a great ear too. His musicianship as well as his ear – together they make a really powerful combination.

Because of his musical skills, he hears things in terms of what musicians are doing. That helps the process go quickly. He intuitively understands what you want. I’ve enjoyed that very much, and, in a studio situation, it’s important to be able to get through the work quickly and efficiently.

People are the most important part of the equation. But the space needs to be “sacred” as well. We did our best to make John feel comfortable at Transient…

I love the space, it’s a nice comfortable space to record in. The piano is one of the finest I’ve seen in the city in terms of recording studios. Vijay’s piano sound is marvelous in the studio.

And sometimes you hear a sound in your head. It’s perfect. But you just don’t know exactly how to get that down on a recording. So, often, you compromise. You get close and you have to settle.

Not at Transient.

I had an idea for an intro where I wanted to have electric guitar with acoustic sensitivity – Vijay helped mic an electric guitar acoustically to grab the bits of acoustical nature of the instrument. It gave it just the sparkle I was hoping for—the kind you can’t get as readily in a live sound.

Things like that where he helps you think outside the box to really capture the best sound.

What I really appreciate about Vijay is he listens to your musical vision and what you really want, then brings his great strategizing and thinking outside the box to get it.

If you have a musical vision that you’re not willing to compromise, contact us at Transient Sound and let’s dream together.

To learn more about John Moulder, or to find his latest release, Earthborn Tales of Soul and Spirit, please visit