Making Jazz (Feb 2014)
I am looking forward to a busy month – we have a new corporate group starting their People Management workshop, last weekend was Round the Island at the Vaal Dam (the world’s largest inland sailing race), and this weekend is the Rocky Horror Picture Show – my rarely seen wild side is excited to be doing the whole dress up and audience participation thing – I am sure that surprised a few people!
And then it’s Valentine’s Day. I ordered a gourmet Valentine’s picnic hamper which I thought was a rather fun alternative to a crowded restaurant.
And the day after Valentine’s I will be donating alcohol infused platelets!
All of that in only the first half of the month. What do you have planned for this month of love? Loving everyone may sound a bit too much for many of us. Perhaps we could concentrate on appreciating ourselves and appreciating those around us?
At the end of January the Theatre on the Square was completely sold out for Anthony Yoko’s annual Jazz Showcase.
I am a relative newcomer to jazz appreciation so my opinion on the music isn’t reliable – I am just chuffed to be able to recognise some of the standards and know that the funny sounds the singer was making is called skat! But judging by the reactions of my husband and the rest of the audience it really was a very good show with really good musicians.
I did enjoy myself. And I got excited about the factors that I think were making it a successful jazz concert which are just as appropriate for a successful business unit.
The musicians had been brought together by Tony Yoko. He was the “owner” and initiator but he shared leadership throughout. A lot of the time the front man was the singer, Andrew Massey, but all the other musos also took turns to play solos or to lead a number.
I have it on good authority that each of the six musicians plus singer is accomplished. Each performing alone would have been good, but it requires the combination to really make the sound and energy great. Each person’s individual talents (strengths) were used in the most appropriate places to make the whole band (team) achieve more. And no-one’s ego got in the way of an integrated performance.
Jazz fascinates me as there is so much improvisation and spontaneity. It requires the musicians to be adaptive, flexible and on the ball. In today’s business world we also need to be able to create and adapt. We need everyone to feel free to contribute their ideas and yet we must remain cohesive to execute.
The musos were communicating with each other all the time – a word, a hand sign, a look and someone would take over with a solo, and then a change in pace or volume of their playing and the others would know to join back in.
For the Showcase Tony, who himself must be in sixties and is a great drummer / percussionist, had focused on giving exposure to young talent.
At the interval he bumped into an old (and apparently well known) saxophonist friend in the car park, who then joined them on stage for the second half. It was amazing to see how sensitively he slotted in. He would listen to a few notes, decide which of his two instruments to use, try a little bit softly and when it was blending he’d really come in and add to the production.
And the others loved it, they weren’t threatened, and they made way for him to do a few solos as well. (His second instrument was a soprano sax which I thought was a clarinet – okay I still have a lot to learn!)
Much of my enjoyment was seeing how much fun they were all having. They loved playing and being creative and there was a tangible air of appreciating each other.
They were all professionals motivated by the satisfaction of being able to do something well, for a purpose, connected to people they respect, and with freedom of choice.
© copyright 2014 – All Rights Reserved
Quote of the Day
“Always look for opportunities to challenge your best people because many of them are like sticks of dynamite; the power’s on the inside, but nothing happens until the fuse gets lit.” ~ Mac Anderson
My Little Black Book
If you would like to take up the challenge to focus on appreciating those around you, a great book to read is “The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace” by Gary Chapman and Paul White.
If you like jazz or blues in Johannesburg you can get updates on forthcoming productions by signing up to Tony’s mailing list (contact me for the address)