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American Values and Leadership Mastery: A Jazz Perspective, with Greg Thoma...

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The Aligned Center

1 Briadge St.

Ste. 64

Irvington, NY 10533

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The current crisis of confidence in our nation’s civic life calls for a renewal of basic national values and new narratives of common purpose. This talk series, hosted by Lincoln Center keynote speaker, Greg Thomas, responds to the call through the fine art of jazz as a critical metaphor and model to these ends.




Thursday, October 5th

Introduction: A Jazz Listening Session

In the introductory session, Greg Thomas will share the democratic message of jazz through music by grand masters, ranging from Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker and Miles Davis, to luminous divas of American song such as Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, and Sarah Vaughan; we will also talk about the bright lights of today, such as Wynton Marsalis, Cecile McLorin Salvant, Christian McBride and Esperanza Spalding. We will explore audio and video examples of the fundamentals of jazz as an aesthetic form and cultural practice. Deep listening will be explored as essential not only for high-level jazz performance, but also leadership best practices, collaboration between individualswith diverse styles and points of view, and democratic dialogue.

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Thursday November 9, 2017

Jazz and American Democracy: An Integral Alignment

According to the American intellectual tradition extending from the thought and writing of Ralph Ellison, jazz is the sound of American values, a dynamic balance of individuals swinging with and against the group, inclusive of the tensions and releases of American life. Jazz is grounded in the hopeful realism of the blues, and is also improvisational. Similarly, blues-tinged America also improvises, from the founding documents to the free enterprise system.

In this second session, we will listen to jazz music with the phrase, "e pluribis unum" (out of many, one) in heart and mind, and will explore the blues idiom worldview of Albert Murray, which reveals how jazz integrates the discords of American life into a concerto of meaning, a story of resilience and possibility within ever-present change—and even clear and present danger.

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Thursday, December 7, 2017

Jazz and 21st Century Leadership: The Mastery Quest

Shared responsibility and leadership agility are essential to jazz music, as solo improvisation and support transfer among the players in service of swinging groove. This form of play and communication mirrors democratic values. Yet each ensemble member is responsible for self-development to become their very best to better flow with others who strive for the same.

This is a mastery quest.

Leadership in the 21st century is grounded in personal mastery in physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual domains. As a jazz musician develops mastery in playing his or her instrument to best communicate with other players and an audience of listeners, leaders develop their character and communication skills, enabling others to strive for their very best—as individuals, in concert with others, and through organizations. This final session relates the principles and practices of the Jazz Leadership Project, co-founded by the series host, Greg Thomas.

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*Greg's Bio:

A professional writer and speaker with deep expertise in jazz, Greg’s passion for the music has found expression in multi-media journalism, jazz education, scholarship, and as a producer of live jazz in Westchester, Harlem, and other parts of New York City. Greg has written about jazz for the New Republic, The Root, All About Jazz, Salon, Uptown, Guardian Observer, American Legacy, Callaloo, and was jazz columnist for the New York Daily News. He has hosted jazz radio programs on WBAI-NY and WVOX-Westchester as well as an online video series, Jazz it Up! Greg co-produced over 100 “Harlem Speaks” interview evenings for the National Jazz Museum in Harlem.

An expert on the blues and jazz writings of Ralph Ellison and Albert Murray, Greg has lectured on the intersection of music and literature at Jazz at Lincoln Center, the Schomburg Center, Hamilton College, Columbia and Harvard.

As co-owner of G&J Productions, Greg launched the Jazz Leadership Project in collaboration with Jewel Kinch-Thomas in 2017. The Jazz Leadership Project provides leadership and teamwork training via experiential workshops grounded in cutting-edge behavioral science and jazz music principles and practices.


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The Aligned Center

1 Briadge St.

Ste. 64

Irvington, NY 10533

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