all saints choirPhoto: Music director Conrad Erdt rehearses for Sunday’s big jazz service with some  members of the Atlantic Highlands church choir.

ATLANTIC HIGHLANDS, NJ - Atlantic Highlands will get a taste of New Orleans this Sunday with a jazz service to celebrate All Saints’ Day at the town’s United Methodist Church.

The upbeat jazz service has become an annual tradition at the church. But this year Music Director Conrad Erdt has pulled out all the stops, assembling a jazz ensemble of well-known area musicians for the service.

Conrad promises gospel meets Louis Armstrong with favorites like’ In The Sweet By and By’ and ‘On Jordan’s Stormy Banks.’ But the grand finale is always ‘When The Saints Go Marching In,’ performed like a classic New Orleans funeral parade which begins with a slow dirge before exploding into up-tempo singing of the popular hymn that has the whole church out of their seats and dancing in the aisles.

Joining Conrad on keyboards  will be Tom Bender on trumpet, Curtis Holtgrefe on clarinet and David Nunez on keyboards. 

Tom has played with a number of nationally known bands performing everything from rock to classical. He performs with the Monmouth Symphony Orchestra. 

Curtis is a graduate of the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music and has built a reputation as a jazz master.

And David is well known to music fans along the Shore, as well as being music director of the Presbyterian Church in Atlantic Highlands.

The church’s full choir will be singing.

All Saints’ Day has a long history in the Christian church, coming the day after Halloween (which was All Hallow’s Eve in old English). But unlike the spooky Halloween night, All Saints is a celebration of all those we believe are now in heaven.

Rev.Jill Hubbard-Smith, pastor of the Methodist church in Atlantic Highlands, explains: “Protestants believe we are surrounded by a great cloud of saints…people who have lived their lives faithfully in relationship to God.”

And she says that while All Saints’ Day is a day to remember those who have died it is also a day for celebration. “This is a day for us to celebrate those who have gone on before us. We put aside our sadness at their passing and remember that they are now at home with God and are seated at the heavenly banquet.

“We will light candles and share the names of those who have gone on to glory this year. And we invite everyone to bring a photo and write a paragraph or two about someone who has been an important person in their faith journey.”

Pastor Jill says: “Everyone is very welcome – even if they are not churchgoers - to come and share memories of their loved ones and of course enjoy the great music!”

The service starts at 10 a.m. at Atlantic Highlands United Methodist Church on the corner of Third Ave and Garfield.

Don’t miss out! Monday (Nov 5) is the monthly free community soup lunch from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the church. Come along and have a bowl of soup, a slice of cake and chat with neighbors.