Light Touch

Recently, a bright star fell from the firmament of jazz. Elegant, adventurous guitar master and composer John Abercrombie leaves behind a body of work that runs from classic jazz and jazz-rock fusion, to avant-garde improvisation. But Abercrombie was known for understatement and light, diaphanous lines. He consciously avoided flashiness.

Speakers can take inspiration from masters. Abercrombie found moments of opportunity in a performance with a trio or quartet, but never overplayed. He respected the integrity of the group. When you are in a team pitch or presentation, step up and take your moment, but know when to fade back. Impression management is more important than extending your solo.

Abercrombie played clear, simple lines that gained in strength when he repeated them– increasing their weight with variations in tone and tempo. When you establish a theme in a presentation, repeat it on occasion, expanding and varying it to build weight. And like Abercrombie, keep expanding your horizons. Take the same content and recast the message. A changeup in style will breathe new life into your material.

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