Tuesday 18 November 2008

Leadership Secrets of Herbie Hancock

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.


Steve Hearn said...

Spot on, I can just see God jiving in heaven as the leadership jam with us pew warmers! Encore!

Mike Peatman said...

It's hard not to break a commandment and envy you there. I like the idea of jazz ministry & leadership. Mind you, some Christian leaders do seem to be making it up as they go along

June Butler said...

Bishop Alan, you seem to be a real bishop. Are you one of a kind, or are there others like you? I've never before met a bishop so crazy into jazz in my real or virtual life.

Captain Rugeley said...

H'mmm . . . how about 'Blues leadership'?

Agree key and tempo first, but all concerned know instinctively where the changes come - even in a piece they've never played before. And great scope for soloing, too, against those changes.

Jazz - especially free-form - is exhilarating at its best, but can quickly become a self-indulgent cacophony in the hands of the under-talented.

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