As someone who laser focuses on complexity and nuance, I’ve seldom resonated with “either/or,” “good or bad,” “black or white,” etc., types of thinking.

I find that most ideas, mental models, “isms,” and certainly people are an often paradoxical confluence of many things, and integration of seemingly disparate elements. I geek out on integrative thinking, whenever I encounter it in a person, an organization, a product…or a piece of music.

Especially jazz.

I didn’t grow up as a jazz listener. My brother Frank, however, loved jazz more than any other type of music and listened to it with zeal and focus. During my 40s I took a deeper dive into the genre and have been swimming ever since.

Jazz is a unique and distinctive genre of music characterized by several key features that set it apart from other musical styles:

1. Improvisation: Jazz is perhaps best known for its emphasis on improvisation. Musicians often create and perform music on the spot, making each performance unique. Improvisation is a hallmark of jazz, allowing for spontaneous creativity and expression.

2. Syncopation: Jazz frequently incorporates syncopated rhythms, where the emphasis is placed on offbeat or unexpected notes. This rhythmic complexity adds a sense of swing and vitality to the music.

3. Complex Harmonies: Jazz often features intricate and sophisticated harmonic progressions. Musicians use extended chords, substitutions, and modulations, creating a rich and colorful harmonic landscape.

4. Instrumentation: Jazz ensembles come in various forms, from small groups (e.g., a jazz trio or quartet) to big bands with multiple horn sections. The combination of instruments, including brass, woodwinds, and rhythm section, contributes to the genre’s unique sound.

5. Call and Response: Jazz frequently employs call-and-response patterns, where one musician or section “calls” with a musical phrase, and another “responds” with a complementary or contrasting phrase. This technique fosters interaction and dialogue among musicians.

6. Blues Influence: Jazz has deep roots in the blues, with many jazz standards and compositions drawing from blues scales and structures. 

There’s no rigidity of thinking, judgement of “others,” or “it has to be this way” in jazz. Instead, it’s an integration of numerous elements, perspectives, and talents.

Jazz musicians might not go around calling themselves “integrative thinkers,” but they do it on a world-class level.

It’s hard for me to get into or stay in a bad mood when I listen to jazz. Instead, the world feels full of possibilities, compassion, and love.

Let’s connect

I’m an ICF-certified and experienced professional, coaching authentic human leaders with a focus on organizations whose Director+ population is facing complex, nuanced problems. Use this link to schedule a call with me to discuss potential coaching services. You can also email me or message me on LinkedIn.