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January 2012 | Volume 5, Issue #7      

In This Issue
The Jazz Quote of the Month
Jazz Clip of the Month
Jazz Vespers at Brentwood
Cory Weeds' Cellar Jazz Club
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I had another provocative lunch with my middle stepson, Michael Fergusson, a couple of weeks before Christmas. Michael has been an entrepreneur and innovator on the web for the last 15 years. He is the president of Ayogo, a company he founded to help people change their lives one social game at a time. They develop games that nurture the human condition, motivate, educate, and promote health and wellness.


Michael FergussonWe were talking at lunch about the key conditions for innovation. Among several he mentioned, the ability to "pivot" stood out.


"What," I wondered out loud, "is that?"


Michael used the analogy of running backs in football. All of their energy is focused on moving the ball forward, but they are constantly encountering obstacles - players working together on the opposing team trying to slow them down and tackle them. Sometimes even their own teammates get in the way.


Successful running backs know how to spin off or pivot away from an obstacle and find another path forward - often doing this several times during the same run. They are skilled at keeping their balance while applying optimal energy to the advancement of their purpose. Obstacles are a fact of life, but do not define reality for running backs. Rather, they are focused on the application of their trained aspirations and abilities to pivot off obstacles in order to advance their purpose.


FootballI've seen a different pattern of pivoting among jazz musicians, one with no body contact. One musician will pivot off the others to explore a new musical idea. The others will follow, often pivoting off again with their own ideas. In the atmosphere of imagination, improvisation, and innovation that hosts great jazz, this kind of pivoting is expected. It's the dynamic from which the new emerges between the lines of the tradition, from the patterns of the already known. The musicians bring their trained aspirations and abilities to the pivoting that generates new possibilities. These possibilities get explored, examined, refined, and rejected or accepted. This is the process that generates innovation.


Creating space for this pattern of pivoting is one of the keys to innovative teamwork in jazz.


And I've seen a similar patterns at work in conversations in teamwork. Without the agility to pivot in pursuit of a positive purpose in the midst of a conversation, people let obstacles in the form of resistance or negativity bring the conversation to a complete halt. Obstacles are allowed to define reality and opportunities for creativity and innovation are stopped in their tracks. People walk away from the conversation discouraged and frustrated. The team's forward momentum is seriously disrupted.


With the agility to pivot, conversations continue longer. They can shift away from obstacles and negativity and explore new paths to achieve the team's aspirations. They can open up new possibilities and invite everyone involved in the enterprise to imagine what might be done to advance the purpose. Major progress might not happen in the conversation of the moment, but there is always another conversation coming up soon. It might be the one that contains the pivot that creates the breakthrough.


Coming into the conversation with the intention to generate innovation and paying attention to the opportunities to pivot while conversing are the keys to success. The imaginative energy behind the pivoting in these conversations is a powerful source of creativity and innovation. 








Jazz Quote of the Month - Forget about Technique



Victor Wooten is a Grammy-winning bass player. The Music Lesson (2006) is a fanciful and fascinating tale of his education in the art of expressing Music. Provoked by his quirky mentor, Michael, he learns about groove, notes, articulation, technique, emotion, dynamics, rhythm, tone, phrasing, space, and listening.


Music is a vibration. That's all. But vibrations are penetrating and they never stop. So, it's important to pay attention to the vibrations that you are putting out there.


Victor WootenWooten believes passionately that Music exists inside each of us and that instruments, including the voice in conversation, simply allow others to hear how musical you are. We don't play Music. We feel her and listen to her, then bring her forth.


The Music Lesson"Good technique allows you to use all the other elements of Music at will. ...Your technique should be at such a high level that you can forget about it. Eventually, you will even forget about your bass. Only then can you remember how to play Music. Think about talking. When you talk, the words are your notes. Your tongue, diaphragm, mouth, teeth, lips, and so on are your instruments. How you use them to push air across your vocal cords and through your lips is your technique, but you rarely think about it. ... Remember, like talking, techniques are tools and not the end result."


The clearer you are about the vibrations that you want to put out there, about the energy that you want to generate, the more responsibly you will be in the use of your voice in conversation to bring forth the Music in you. You are always putting out vibes that have impacts. Only you can determine whether those impacts are beneficial.




Jazz Clip of the Month


Here's a new feature in the Jazzthink E-Zine. It's a clip of some great jazz. This month it's Louis Armstrong and Danny Kaye doing a version of When the Saints God Marching In that reminds us of the respect jazz musicians have for musical masters in all genres.


YouTube Video  

Jazz Vespers for Jan. 2012  

Cory Weeds' Cellar Jazz Club in January 2012


There's some great live jazz at Cory Weeds' Cellar Jazz Club this month. Check out the calendar and make your reservation.

The Cellar