Saturday night was the hottest jazz ticket of the year, Herbie Hancock’s Sextet at the London jazz Festival. This man played with Miles Davis. Herbie rides again! This man is legend: and he packed the stage with some of the greatest musicians in the world. If you were dong a fantasy football best sextet ever, these guys would be in it — Terence Blanchard, James Genus, Lionel Loueke, and Kendrick Scott. No Sax, but a Swiss Harmonica man called Gregoire Maret. And this was not fantasy, but happening feet away from us, with an ease and grace that blew me away.
The programme was a cool mix of barnstorming stuff from the Head Hunters era and cool exploratory playing — HH’s freshness, vitality and skill just seems to grow all the time. At the end people went wild, and we got an encore which consisted of HH, playing one of those keyboard guitar things straight off the set of a 70’s cop show, going round the band, dialoguing with each of them, showin’ em up, in all humility, as five of the greatst musicians in the world.
I’m greatly struck by the parallels between jazz, ministry and creative leadership. This is how you integrate humility and passion. I was helping last night on a residential with our diocesan Developing Servant Leaders Programme, workshopping with some of our curates where our docesan strategy is and could be going (another really motivational evening with some great colleagues). One thing we did together was just observe a clip from the final encore, how each voice was different, how the structure and discipline of being together set people free to be themselves, how Herbie led never dominated, and, above all, the grace and ease of the handovers, the little gestures of affirmation that say so much about what’s really going on.
I do believe that if we could do Church Leadership this way, the Lord himself would be laughing and swaying with the rest of us and the joy would be infectious, and the singing would never be done.