Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Chick Corea Five Peace Band - amazing

"Will Kenny Garrett's sax live?"  was what I kept thinking during his first solo after the interval.  It was an amazing performance. Mr Garrett took the sax places it really shouldn't go, and was lucky to make it back from.  I'm sure watching Pete Townsend smash up a telecaster was great, but Garrett did it with no percussion required.

The Five Peace Band concert was in the Concert Hall, in the Sydney Opera House.  (Both named in the traditional "name it what it is" Australian way.) We had seats a few rows back staring at Chick Corea, and (to our pleasant surprise) with a clear view of Brian Blade, the drummer. Listening to five musicians who use all elements of music in their playing is great in the concert hall as the sound is so good.  There's no fancy light show or pyrotechnics, it's just the music, and the music was brilliant.

The concert was only seven tunes, each one packed with a density of virtuosity that almost hurt. I don't know the full set list, but they did a blues "New Blues Old Bruise", a weird assed seven final sections Chick Corea thing"Hymn to Andromeda", something from Milestones, and encored with "In a silent way".  All very tasty.  Each player given space to solo, with the rest of the band following their lead; louder, quieter, pushing the beat, laying back, repeating phrases, all brilliant playing.  Then for fun Chick, John and Kenny switched to 4s, ie four bar solos in turn, utter show offs.

Kenny Garrett was the highlight.  Amazing sax work.  Brian Blade and Christian McBride were the surprises.  Blade looked to me like a happy idiot who was allowed to play on the drums, constantly smiling.  His fills were amazingly tight, and just when I thought he would never settle into a groove he pulled one out and sat on it for ages. 

McBride is a great bassist.  Used upright and electric as appropriate.  His "bring the house down" solo was on the upright, and again the sound quality was excellent, we didn't miss a note.

John McLaughlin said that he and Chick Corea have been collaborating for 4o years, which is a healthy amount of time to be working with someone - even on and off.  (I did think there are people in my industry who haven't collaborated for 10 minutes.) It's great to see such excellent musicians working together rather than trying to out do each other.  There was no mystical connection between them due to the time they had been together, but they listened to what each other was doing and played off that.

We didn't all rise when the jazz fusion nobility entered, maybe we should have.   We did when they left.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Behind Closed Doors: working with people

Behind Closed Doors: Secrets of Great Management (Pragmatic Programmers) Behind Closed Doors: Secrets of Great Management by Johanna Rothman

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
A good book with clear ideas that are well presented.

The over all human-focus to the techniques is excellent and very relevant for managing in a collaborative workplace. There are techniques for coaching, delegating, prioritising and planning, giving feedback, facilitation and oodles of others. The descriptions of the techniques are short but the brevity of lessons does not reflect a lack of usefulness, rather a deep understanding and distillation of the essentials.

The book has a story as well as factual advice. Having the story can give the reader a greater understanding of the application of the techniques, as well as taking the lessons out the fact/instructional education mindset and making the lessons more humanly applicable - it is a book about dealing with other humans. Unfortunately the dialogue is contrived (ok, as it's fictional it must be), and Sam is a some kind of omniscient super-manager who always has the right answer, rather than a real person dealing with the complexity of dealing with people. It was ok, but not great.

Having the Techniques section at the end is fantastic, this shows great respect for the people who will use this book saving them from trawling through the pages looking for these handy tidbits.

Despite the the story line I think it's well worth the read, and I should have pulled it off the shelf much earlier than I did.

View all my reviews.

Scrum Chef

Similarities of Iron Chef (Japan) and Scrum:

ScrumIron Chef
Time boxing60 minute battle
Sprint themeTheme ingredient
Single Product ownerChairman Kaga
Sprint planningMenu planning (esp Michiba)
Daily ScrumRegular getting together of chefs with Iron chef/challenger
Sprint reviewTasting and judgement
Sprint retrospective - - -
Self organised teamsIron Chef/Challenger with a team of trusted chefs carry out the work

OK, there are quite a few differences too.