Appearances in London & Paris in June 23-25
Hans Rosling: the zen master of presenting data

Jazz: the ultimate in naked communication

Cherry_jazz.001 Jazz is one of the purest forms of self-expression. We need more jazz in this world. Jazz is also the epitome of naked communication. The legendary jazz cornetist Don Cherry said that "music is one of the arts that make a person completely naked." The best music is indeed played naked, this is especially true for jazz. When I was in Paris last week (pics), I received a CD as a gift from Jeremy, a French entrepreneur who said my work had helped him; the CD was a token of his appreciation. I was touched. Then when I finally listened to the CD — "Lucky" by Molly Johnson — I was blown away by this amazing artist from Canada. I was not familiar with Johnson's work, but I sure am now. She is wonderful. (Her website.) Her interpretation — her presentation if you will — of the jazz standard "Summer time" is a lovely example of naked communication: honest, transparent, raw, visceral, emotional, beautifully simple and yet rich and meaningful. As you watch Molly below, try to imagine how you can fill more of your own work with such naked and true communication.

This piece above also features some really nice exchanges between the bass player and the drummer. Going naked also means being a good listener; notice how they play off each other. The very fact too that Molly uses only a bass and drums to back her up in this song is another good example of nakedness. She's up there without a pianist (or guitarist) which creates a kind of empty space for clarity and connection. The sound is full and fat, but it's all her. Remarkable.

Previous posts on issues related to presentation and what we can learn from jazz.
Moving to higher ground: Lessons from the art of jazz (part I)
Structure & spontaneity: Lessons from the art of jazz (part II)
Zen, jazz, & creativity: Lessons from the art of jazz (part III)
Jazz and the art of connecting
More lessons from jazz
Jazz and simplifying complication
Steve Jobs' presentation style...and all that jazz


Fred E. Miller

I Get It, Garr!

Playing music or singing 'naked' is like a good presentation should be.

Simple and Clean with no distractions from fancy build-ins, build-outs, or transitions.

My presentations are now taking off their 'clothes',


Jan Schultink

I would love an off-topic post with more recommendations for jazz music.

Lee Cunningham

My father used to sing that in the shower. I sent him the link. He replied saying he still does... though not nearly as good as Molly.. Thanks Garr

Michael Stout

I couldn't agree more! In fact I might even be willing to say that jazz is the only TRUE art today because while Jazz artists spend a lifetime studying the idiom, and music in general, while they spend a life time learning their instruments, while they spend a life time learning a SONG, they also strip themselves bare in every performance. That's art.
By the way, as a Canadian and a CBC brat, Molly Johnson was someone I'd heard much about, but I'd never bought one of her recordings. After watching her performance of Summertime that you posted here, I bought her latest from iTunes. Thanks!
I must say, I'm proud of Ms Johnson. She could easily move to more profitable environs, but she's chosen to stay at home. Oddly enough, by staying home, she's following the tradition of a great many jazz artists in New Orleans.
Thanks again!

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