Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

Let’s Play: Jazz and the Jazz Ensemble as a Model for Entrepreneurial and Collaborative Action

“Let’s Play” is a multi-media, interactive program that frames the issues of entrepreneurial collaboration, coordinated improvisation, and workforce empowerment from the perspective of the jazz ensemble.

The presentation begins with a brief but energetic exploration of the history of jazz, and observes jazz as an extraordinary synthesis of African and European musical elements, simmered and stewed in the melting pot of North America.  The session then teaches the participants something about the harmonic and rhythmic structures – the discipline, the context – that lie at the heart of jazz improvisation.  The session then goes on to observe the organizational dynamics within the so-called jazz orchestra, in which issues of scale force a degree of vertical organization on what otherwise is a horizontally organized genre of music.  Indeed, the jazz orchestra is a wonderful metaphor for the small organization grown large, with all the attendant organizational and creative challenges that accompany such growth.  Indeed, the jazz orchestra offers a useful model in which the elements of improvisation and spontaneous, horizontal interaction are reconciled with the necessities of a vertical hierarchy.

Video excerpts include performances and commentary by Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Benny Goodman, Branford Marsalis, Cecil Taylor, Allen Ginsberg, and Wynton Marsalis.  Audio excerpts range from West African Drumming and African American Spirituals to New Orleans Jazz and Klezmer music.

While this program is conceived as a stand-alone session, it is also a perfect companion piece to “Conduct Becoming”.

GOALS: to demonstrate such issues as collaboration and entrepreneurship through the metaphor of a jazz ensemble.

Session length: 75 – 90 minutes

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