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July 2012 | Volume 6, Issue #1      

In This Issue
Jazz Quote of the Month
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And some therapy for your soul and readjustment of your flow
Cory Weeds' Cellar Jazz Club
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During this year's Vancouver International Jazz Festival, I got the opportunity to chat with pianist Miles Black at the bar at Cory Weeds' Cellar Jazz Club. Miles is one of my favourite jazz pianists of all time, with a sensitive touch on the keyboard, a delightful breadth of styles, a creative commitment to collaboration, and an awareness of the dynamics of jazz that informs, inspires, and delights.


Miles BlackHe told me how he learned his art by imitating and practicing. He began playing professionally in his home town of Victoria, BC, at the age of 14. He'd listen to one of the few records they had in his home and learn the techniques and flow. He'd go down to Nelson's Music and memorize a page or two of music, then go home and play it over and over again. Then he'd go back and repeat the process


Listening, even if it's in your mind as you read, is the first crucial step. Then practicing, with focus and persistence, is the next one.


That experience in learning the art form made him a superb teacher of jazz as well. In his teaching, he is always paying attention to the space he creates for his students to discover their own unique genius. They learn the foundations by imitating, but as they grow more proficient they begin to appropriate and innovate with their own particular gifts. Miles strives to create and hold a space in which his students can learn to play their own brilliance in their own style as a contribution to the collective performance of the group. In holding that space, Miles is always offering wisdom and support to help them grow into their virtuosity.


The next morning, as I was having coffee out on our balcony, I found myself wondering how many of us really take our conversations as seriously as Miles takes his piano (and the 3 other instruments he now plays - sax, bass, and guitar).


I don't buy the argument that our conversations are less important than Miles' playing nor that they don't have the potential to have the impact of Miles' playing. They do, if we are willing to take our performance in conversation as seriously as Miles takes his performance on his musical instruments.


Does your voice in your conversations have a sensitive touch?


Do you have a delightful breadth of styles in using your voice?


Is there a creative commitment to collaboration that comes through in the tone and vibe your voice generates?


Is there an awareness of the dynamics of your conversation - of the potential of your conversation - in informing, inspiring, and delighting?


Brian on his patioThis summer I'm going to spend a bit more focused and intentional time on the balcony - with coffee in the morning and wine in the late afternoon or evening - holding a space to consider and practice the voice in my soul. I'll be honing the styles I want to bring into my relationships that will generate the vibes that will provoke value.


Will you join in your version of that project? I hope so. And do let me know what you discover.








Jazz Quote of the Month


Karl Paunack is the director of music at the Boston Conservatory. This quote comes from an address given to incoming students given in 2004 that has recently gone viral.


Karl PaunackYou're not here to become an entertainer, and you don't have to sell yourself. The truth is you don't have anything to sell; being a musician isn't about dispensing a product, like selling used cars. I'm not an entertainer; I'm a lot closer to a paramedic, a firefighter, a rescue worker. You're here to become a sort of therapist for the human soul, a spiritual version of a chiropractor, physical therapist, someone who works with our insides to see if they get things to line up, to see if we can come into harmony with ourselves and be healthy and happy and well.


Healing your soul for harmonious happiness is a complex process that integrates intellect, emotion, and intuition into collaborative creativity in the service of community. I have found no better model for that than jazz - infinitely complex, startlingly simple, powerfully positive, and delightfully energizing and engaging.  




Follow us on Twitter


I've begun to post some of my discoveries and reflections on Twitter.  


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And some therapy for your soul and readjustment of your flow ...

Here's an example of what Karl is pointing to. Cory Weeds, leader of the Jazzthink Trio, playing at Chalkers Pub, Billiards and Bistro in Toronto with jazz greats Bernie Senensky (piano), Terry Clark (drums), and Duncan Hopkins (bass). The piece was written by Cory in honour of his grandmother, Hazel. She's the big H in the Weeds family, still swinging at the age of 93. What my soul and flow got from this therapy was high energy and vibrant virtuosity.


Cory Weeds
Click on the image to play the video

Cory Weeds' Cellar Jazz Club in July 2012


There are some great evenings planned for July at The Cellar. My two favourites are the Melody Daichun Quartet on July 14 and Jim Byrnes with Jesse Cahill's Night Crawlers on July 20. Make your reservations early.  

The Cellar