January 2008 | Volume 1, Issue #7

In This Issue
Leadership Grooves
Leadership Riffs
Upcoming Engagements
The Cellar Jazz Club
Quick Links


As Jazzthink continues to evolve in 2008, we look forward to providing our subscribers with provocative insights and tips on leadership from the wisdom and workings of jazz.  We will continue to help leaders play above by acting differently as they find themselves in new and challenging situations, inspiring them with our unique and innovative blend of leadership research and great jazz.


This year we embark on the writing of our second Jazzthink book entitled Swing: Finding Your Leadership Groove.  It will be based on a series of interviews with Vancouver's best jazz group leaders. 


Thank you to all of our subscribers who have enjoyed a Jazzthink gig in 2007 for what you have contributed to our understanding of the dynamics of leadership.  We look forward to much more learning together in 2008.


Warm regards,  

Brian Fraser                      


Leadership Grooves
groove (grōōv) n. - 1. functioning in perfect order. 
appreciating and enjoying.  3. pleasing immensely.

When Oscar Peterson died on
Sunday, December 23, 2007 at the age of 82, one of the true leaders in jazz passed on.  As I was reading the heart-felt appreciations that poured forth in the press and listening to some of my favourite Peterson recordings, I couldn't help but think of the way his unique groove in jazz exemplified key leadership dynamics.  What came to mind were courage, humility, inspiration, and mastery.

As Peterson's career developed, he frequently faced the exclusionary dynamics of racism in his native

Montreal and in the United States.  He felt hurt and anger, but did not allow those emotions to debilitate his passion for performing.  He chose to let his own talent, not the prejudices of others, define how he lived.  This is the courage that comes from a heart that knows its own worth and value.  It can be heard and felt in the stirring music of his anthem for the civil rights movement, 'Ode to Freedom'.



Peterson's close friends remembered him as a gentle and humble man.  He let his talent and creativity speak for itself in his performances and in his collaboration with other musicians.  Jazz is an art form that tends not to tolerate prima donnas.  It thrives on a humble sharing of the spotlight to let all the talent in the group to contribute its best to the performance as a whole.



At the unveiling of the Canadian stamp honouring Peterson's 80th birthday, Diana Krall said, "You inspire me to no end every day."  Those who played with Peterson echoed those sentiments and those who have purchased and played copies of his 300 recordings share the same feelings.  Peterson's energetic swing moves the soul, that integrating centre of our being from which our own genius arises.  It inspires us all to play above.



Peterson's influence arose from his mastery of his craft and his mastery arose from his love for what he did.  As he once said, "I just figure that the love I have of the instrument and my group and the medium itself works as a sort of a rejuvenating factor for me."  That's especially true in the field of leadership.  Those who love it enough to really master its intricacies will discover the courage and humility to be an inspiration.

Leadership Riffs 
riff (rif) - n. 1. a melodic phrase in jazz, often constantly repeated and played over changing harmonies.

David White is one of the pioneers in the 'Spirit at Work' movement that seeks to help people reframe their attitudes and behaviours in the workplace to find and bring more personal meaning and significance into that environment in which we spend so much of our valuable time and energy.  In Crossing the Unknown Seas: Work as a Pilgrimage of Identity (2001), he expressed the conviction that the word 'manager' would disappear from our understanding of leadership:


"Another word will emerge, more alive with possibility, more helpful, hopefully not decided upon by a committee, which will describe the new role of leadership now emerging.  An image of leadership that embraces the attentive, open-minded, conversationally-based, people-minded person who has not given up on her intellect and can still act and act quickly when needed.  Much of the wisdom needed to create these new roles lies not in our empirical, strategic disciplines but in our artistic traditions.  It is the artist in each of us we must now encourage into the world, ..." (pp.240-241)


We are all jazz musicians, and thus artists, in the conversations we perform.  Conversation is the most common form of improvisation or jazz.  What constantly repeated tones and phrases are shaping your conversations and your leadership?

Upcoming Engagements
Brian Fraser

THE ART OF SAGING: Jazzing Up Your Personal Growth


Date: Saturday, January 19, 2008, 9:00 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.


Where: The Cellar Restaurant/Jazz Club, 3611 W. Broadway


To find out more and register, click here.

Vancouver Board of Trade Logo 

JAZZING UP YOUR LEADERSHIP: How effective leaders engage colleagues


Date: Thursday, March 27, 2008


Where: TBA


Registration: 7:30 a.m.

Program: 7:45 - 9:45 a.m.


To find our more and register, click here.

Enjoy Great Jazz in Vancouver 

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