I wrote about ego here before. How Rufus Reid told us 11 years ago to ‘leave it on the shelf’, and about the widely-held belief that the true masters have no ego.

This week I’m in the presence of people who are living proof of this.


Pictured above are (l-r) Henrik Linder, Liane Carroll and Federico Malaman, all world jazz superstars, all leading by example in making the Sligo Jazz Festival a fun and learning experience for students, other musicians and audiences alike.

Liane was part of last night’s gig, and lived up to Linley Hamilton’s description of her as the world’s best vocalist when she sang and accompanied herself on the piano for a version of Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein’s Ol’ Man River.

However what stood out on the gig for me (apart from the amazing musicianship) was the teamwork. There were 8 top class musicians on stage, each seemingly committed to making the gig as good as it could be by working with each other and doing what was best for the music, not themselves.

Let me give you some examples…

  • The way they used their bodies, faces and stage position to show respect and admiration for the other performers.
  • The way that the trombonist – Shannon – lived every note of the solos played by the other musicians.
  • The piano player – Malcolm – choosing to sit out of a couple of numbers to highlight the contribution of other players.
  • The rhythm section’s sensibility to each other and the soloist.
  • The way that the musicians visibly complimented others on their solos/playing.
  • The last song, when the three vocalists – Liane, Sarah, Emilia – took their solo together, instead of individually. It meant a shorter finale (see below also), and sounded great!
  • The choice of not doing an encore – so that students could get to the jam session and have a chance to play.

Leave it on the shelf. You don’t have to be a master to do so.


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