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Jazz Musicians Quotes


"Jazz musicians have some outlaw in them somewhere." - Mike Zwerin

"Jazz is very much alive. Everywhere I go there's a new generation of musicians playing Jazz music." - Toots Thielemans

"So much of Jazz doesn't have an audience other than music students or musicians." - Branford Marsalis

"Jazz translates the moment into a sense of inspiration for not only the musicians but for the listeners." - Herbie Hancock

"Musicians like to converse. There's always interesting conversation with musicians - with classical musicians, with jazz musicians, musicians in general." - Wynton Marsalis

"Regarding jam sessions: Jazz musicians are the only workers I can think of who are willing to put in a full shift for pay and then go somewhere else and continue to work for free." - George Carlin

"Jazz music is the power of now. There is no script. It's conversation. The emotion is given to you by musicians as they make split-second decisions to fulfill what they feel the moment requires." - Wynton Marsalis

"Astronomers, like burglars and jazz musicians, operate best at night." - Miles Kington

"[Jazz musicians] feel comfortable with their cliches, you know." - Miles Davis

"Marijuana is taken by musicians. And I'm not speaking about good musicians, but the jazz type..." - Harry J. Anslinger

"The jazz and blues clubs are like the jazz and blues musicians - they're disappearing." - Buddy Guy

"I've been around jazz and jazz musicians most of my life." - Kenneth Rexroth

"Jazz is the last refuge of the untalented. Jazz musicians enjoy themselves more than anyone listening to them does." - Tony Wilson

"Music chooses her musicians." - Patricia Barber

"A lot of times, jazz musicians try to educate people. What other genre does that?" - Robert Glasper

"Jazz musicians are the coolest people on the planet. Can I have some cool?" - Jon Stewart

"Symphony musicians are not trained in improvising, certainly not in a jazz style." - Gunther Schuller

"I've met a lot of jazz musicians in my day, and they're all funny." - Tommy Chong

"Comedians talk to other comedians the way jazz musicians can talk to each other." - David Steinberg

"Today jazz is still very much alive. Everywhere I go there's a new generation of musicians." - Toots Thielemans

"Jazz is smooth and cool. Jazz is rage. Jazz flows like water. Jazz never seems to begin or end. Jazz isn't methodical, but jazz isn't messy either. Jazz is a conversation, a give and take. Jazz is the connection and communication between musicians. Jazz is abandon." - Nat Wolff

"Jazz scares me. I've witnessed so many incredible singers and jazz musicians. Pop and soul music have always been the things that I felt like I could do." - Sam Smith

"We're not spokespeople, we're musicians." - Ed O'Brien

"The reward for playing jazz is playing jazz." - John Lewis

"[Jazz musicians ] couldn't cut rock. I had to be more limited and specific about what I was doing." - Van Morrison

"Coltrane would do what you'd get a Roland Pro Tools module to do but with a group of jazz musicians." - Colin Greenwood

"I found that jazz musicians, possibly more than their classical counterparts, wear long-standing friendships easily and gracefully." - Andre Previn

"I know of musicians who have played together for decades who hate each other. The Modern Jazz Quartet for one." - Gary Burton

"Jazz is America's classical music." - Billy Taylor

"Jazz is democracy in music." - Wynton Marsalis

"I visited New York in '63, intending to move there, but I noticed that what I valued about jazz was being discarded. I ran into `out-to-lunch' free jazz, and the notion that groove was old-fashioned. All around the United States, I could see jazz becoming linear, a horn-player's world. It made me realize that we were not jazz musicians; we were territory musicians in love with all forms of African-American music. All of the musicians I loved were territory musicians, deeply into blues and gospel as well as jazz." - Joe Sample

"For me, let's keep jazz as folk music. Let's not make jazz classical music. Let's keep it as street music, as people's everyday-life music. Let's see jazz musicians continue to use the materials, the tools, the spirit of the actual time that they're living in, as what they build their lives as musicians around." - Pat Metheny

"Metal musicians say dumb things sometimes." - Rob Halford

"Musicians are the architects of heaven." - Bobby Mcferrin

"My family isn't posh; they're musicians." - Audrey Niffenegger

"There is an apprenticeship system in jazz. You teach the young ones. So even if the musicians weren't personally that likable, they felt an obligation to help the younger musicians." - Dave Van Ronk

"After the war, once the bop revolution had taken hold, there were all kinds of young musicians, talented young musicians, who were ready for this fusion of classical and jazz." - Gunther Schuller

"People who love jazz musicians love us when we play what we want to play and we're starving. But as soon as you commercialize your sound like Wes Montgomery did, the jazz fans and the critics are down on you!" - George Benson

"I like musicians who look at the public. You have to bring the music to the largest number. Otherwise, we'll [the Jazz players] stay in the clubs. Jazz must be accessible to everyone." - Dee Dee Bridgewater

"What jazz means to me is the worst kind of working conditions, the worst in cultural prejudice... The term jazz has come to mean the abuse and exploitation of black musicians." - Max Roach

"What 'jazz' means to me is the worst kind of working conditions, the worst in cultural prejudice. The term 'jazz' has come to mean the abuse and exploitation of black musicians." - Maxim Gorky

"I have seen great jazz musicians die obscure and drinking themselves to death and not really being able to get any work and working in small, funky jazz clubs." - Sonny Rollins

"My novels and poems are meant to be read aloud. That's why jazz musicians have been able to adapt my stuff." - Ishmael Reed

"Kansas City Lightning succeeds as few biographies of jazz musicians have. . . This book is a magnificent achievement; I could hardly put it down." - Henry Louis Gates

"As long as there are musicians who have a passion for spontaneity, for creating something thats never been before, the art form of jazz will flourish." - Charlie Haden

"'Swing' is an adjective or a verb, not a noun. All jazz musicians should swing. There is no such thing as a 'swing band' in music." - Artie Shaw

"What separates great jazz musicians from average ones is Taste. Those who have taste consistently choose notes, tempos, timbres and voicings that seduce and satisfy attentive listeners." - Marc Myers

"I started to listen to Japanese jazz musicians when I went to high school. Some people I listened to were Yosuke Yamashita, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Sadao Watanabe." - Hiromi

"If income was directly proportional to technical proficiency and education, classical and jazz musicians would be some of the most affluent people in the world." - Robert Emerson Coleman

"Jazz musicians are so comfortable. The reason they can't do what we do is because they're so comfortable doin' what they do." - Miles Davis

"Europe was a very contentious subject in literature and yet jazz musicians still depended on Europe. Now it's not such a big deal." - Darryl Pinckney

"As long as there are musicians who have a passion for spontaneity, for creating something that's never been before, the art form of jazz will flourish." - Charlie Haden

"Some musicians play blues, others classical jazz or bluegrass. I like to play political roles because I can merge my political interests with my creative interests." - Jeffrey Wright

"The people in Japan know more about the history of jazz and the musicians than the people in the United States do." - Billy Higgins

"Jazz is the greatest American art form and our greatest export. We don't pay attention to the youth of jazz, don't stoke the fires creatively for the youth coming up. I feel like jazz musicians became too much of purists - with Donald Byrd doing funk jazz in the '70s." - Talib Kweli

"Jazz is freedom. You think about that." - Thelonious Monk

"Jazz music is the power of now." - Wynton Marsalis

"Intellectuals, generally, no longer take jazz seriously." - Tom Wolfe

"It's always fun to talk about jazz." - Clint Eastwood

"Jazz isn't dead. It just smells funny." - Frank Zappa

"Classical musicians go to the conservatories, rock'n roll musicians go to the garages." - Frank Zappa

"I have always loved jazz music and as a teen growing up in New York City and then later on as an adult have great memories of the jazz clubs that were all located on 52nd Street. I still catch as many jazz shows as I can when I am in New York. And when I perform, I have my jazz quartet by my side. Jazz musicians keep things spontaneous and very "live," which is the way I like to perform." - Tony Bennett

"Jazz is the type of music that can absorb so many things and still be jazz." - Sonny Rollins

"Music represents nature. Nature represents life. Jazz represents nature. Jazz is life." - Sonny Rollins

"I've listened to Jazz since I was born and always knew I'd be a Jazz singer!" - Jane Monheit

"The Ertegun Jazz Hall of Fame will provide a center where the lives and the artistry of the greatest jazz musicians will be celebrated, and where people will come to learn about jazz, something to which my brother devoted his lifes work." - Ahmet Ertegun

"We're [with Robbie Robertson ] jazz musicians. The context may be rock 'n' roll but it's still jazz. It's jazz and that means play a tune the way it feels and you play it differently every time. It can never be the same." - Van Morrison

"The Ertegun Jazz Hall of Fame will provide a center where the lives and the artistry of the greatest jazz musicians will be celebrated, and where people will come to learn about jazz, something to which my brother devoted his life's work." - Ahmet Ertegun

"Of course we've lost so many superstars who've made jazz what it is. We've lost so many musicians who created new things and changed the way we think about music and who took jazz to a new level. So jazz is suffering from that. But we still have a lot of incredible people playing jazz in the world. We have a lot of people leading the way." - George Benson

"A wedding is like a funeral, but with musicians." - Patrick Dempsey

"I think the majority of musicians are interested in truth." - John Coltrane

"All rock musicians are deaf... Or insensitive to mellow sounds." - Marc Bolan

"Now as jazz musicians we're saying for this society, you can free up your imagination. You can proceed in an area without much information and you can function in an area without much information." - Paul Bley

"I think jazz is a phenomenal creative force, because it's one man, one vote as you're playing, but it's a collective thing, what you're doing. You're listening to all the musicians around you and you're working within that structure." - Herb Alpert

"My primary influences were the best jazz players from the 50's and 60's and later some of the pop people from the same time period along with the better of the well-known blues musicians." - Walter Becker

"For better or for worse, I think my approach to jazz is very traditional, in one sense, but is [also] very out of fashion today. It's about the musicians, and it's about that magic that happens in the moment." - Jose James

"All music now, I think, is fair game for jazz musicians to interpret, and they have been. I would consider those songs standards now. "Norwegian Wood" is a standard; "Call Me" is a standard." - Patricia Barber

"Music had been going on a long time before that. You have to remember that before rock n' roll there were a bunch of jazz musicians all doing heroin. That sh*t has been around a long time." - Lemmy Kilmister

"Companies have to take risks to get new knowledge, in a manner similar to how jazz musicians take risks when they go after a new approach to a tune or a performance." - John Kao

"Many of the jazz musicians whom are no longer here. You don't realize that it's history when it is happening and then time passes and you look at a picture and you say "Wow, there is history attached to that."" - Carol Friedman

"I think we'll soon see a new breed of musicians who have both a modern chordal sense (jazz) and a high comfort level with synthesizers and new breeds of sounds (from the electronica/techno/dj scene)." - Andrew Sega

"My primary influences were the best jazz players from the 50's and 60's and later some of the pop people from the same time period along with the better of the well known blues musicians." - Walter Becker

"You had many jazz musicians who lived in the United States, who had a hard time being accepted over here and had to play in sort of these inferior type dives." - Sonny Rollins

"We always feel pretty creative as far as writing songs. We write them together; we just get in a room, or on occasion in Flea's garage. We just sort of improvise, like jazz musicians." - Chad Smith

"Not with the Rochester Philharmonic, but I formed my own orchestra, made up of musicians from the Eastman School, where I'm on the faculty now, direct the Jazz Ensemble and teach improvisation classes." - Chuck Mangione

"One of the things that's clear to me from interviews that I've read is that the more popular successful jazz musicians had audiences above and beyond the music community." - Branford Marsalis

"Jazz stands for freedom. It's supposed to be the voice of freedom: Get out there and improvise, and take chances, and don't be a perfectionist - leave that to the classical musicians." - Dave Brubeck

"Jazz washes away the dust of every day life." - Art Blakey

"It takes an intelligent ear to listen to Jazz." - Art Blakey

"Jazz is a beautiful word. I love it." - Dexter Gordon

"What kills me is that everybody thinks I like Jazz." - Samuel L Jackson

"Jazz is one of the least learnable art forms." - Keith Jarrett

"Jazz speaks for life. This is triumphant music." - Martin Luther King, Jr.

"Jazz is so incestuous that it's starting to kill itself." - Branford Marsalis

"Jazz music is a language of the emotions." - Charles Mingus

"Jazz music just resonates with the frequency of me." - Esperanza Spalding

"Jazz: Music invented for the torture of imbeciles." - Henry Van Dyke

"Jazz was home. It created a hunger within me." - Dianne Reeves

"Nothing says "i came here to win" like jazz hands" - Josh Ramsay

"Shut up and let me see your jazz hands" - Gerard Way

"You know the rules. No jazz before a rumble." - S E Hinton

"The rhythm of life is a jazz rhythm" - Langston Hughes

"In my view a jazz musician is a great musician" - Michael Parkinson

"Jazz: Music invented by demons for the torture of imbeciles." - Henry Van Dyke

"I like rock music. I like jazz better, though." - Clarke Peters

"I cringed when I heard myself described as a Jazz singer. I've always thought of myself as a Jazz vocalist." - Cassandra Wilson

"I'm a jazz musician by education and vocation, but I don't think jazz should [ dictate] what I want to do." - Dave Douglas

"Then it evolved into more of a ballad style singer/songwriter thing. And there was a conflict in trying to merge the two styles with the same band behind me. 'Cause the musicians that I would need to do ballad-oriented tunes would require musicians who were more into jazz." - Van Morrison

"The lion's share of what I hear right now are people who, intentional or accidental, have avoided all jazz prior to 1960. And all the musicians who were successful in the '60s spent their entire lives, prior to 1960, listening to all the musicians these people avoid." - Branford Marsalis

"I will never again play anything that does not have social significance. We American jazz musicians of African descent have proved beyond all doubt that we are master musicians of our instruments. Now what we have to do is employ our skill to tell the dramatic story of our people and what we've been through," - Max Roach

"It is my belief that there is a tendency among the so-called 'modern' or 'hip' jazz musicians to consider styles other that their own, 'corny', and it is my contention that in actuality it is these musicians who are producing that which in future years perceptive critics will deem 'corny'." - Don Ellis

"I was being ridiculed for going to school... But, you see, I had looked hard at the other musicians and the whole show-business scene... They were doing with jazz musicians what they usually reserved for rock n' roll cats: making them overnight successes, then overnight antiques." - Donald Byrd

"The black hole in democracy is integrity. The great unspoken is integrity. When integrity is not first and foremost, it's quite palpable but not visible. It's always there. Jazz highlights it because musicians and jazz always represented a high level of integrity." - Wynton Marsalis

"If I knew what it was going to look like, I wouldnt be so excited to be a part of it. Jazz is a music of surprise; its a music of spontaneity. I think jazz musicians live-I know I do-for being surprised and not knowing whats going to come next." - Joshua Redman

"Through the dark days of legalized segregation and on into the civil rights era, jazz shone as a beacon for achieving interracial respect and understanding. It seemed as if the dream of a color-blind society was within reach in the jazz world, where musicians were judged on merit and not skin color." - Randy Sandke

"To say that the Afro American created jazz doesn't mean anything bad about Anglo Americans, and I always teach my younger jazz musicians that at this point the entirety of the American tradition is your heritage, and you need to know it." - Wynton Marsalis

"Duke Ellington, Art Tatum, and many other great jazz musicians objected to their music being called jazz. While the outside world may want to put a label on it, those who create it think of it just as music, and tend not to classify it." - Dave Brubeck

"I was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and am a product of a family that were jazz aficionados and also very interested in progressive politics. And so I had a lot of artists and musicians in my home. Lots of Latin music, folk, and jazz and blues, bluegrass-type of stuff. Painters and stuff like that." - Jack Waters

"I was co-editor of the magazine called The Jazz Review, which was a pioneering magazine because it was the only magazine, then or now, in which all the articles were written by musicians, by jazz men. They had been laboring for years under the stereotype that they weren't very articulate except when they picked up their horn." - Nat Hentoff

"Comedians and jazz musicians have been more comforting and enlightening to me than preachers or politicians or philosophers or poets or painters or novelists of my time. Historians in the future, in my opinion, will congratulate us on very little other than our clowning and our jazz." - Kurt Vonnegut

"I took some lessons as a kid but trained myself by ear. I did it the way jazz musicians used to learn years ago, which is to play records and slow them down to figure out the notes. At first I tried to imitate Red Garland, who was my favorite jazz pianist." - Donald Fagen

"Hamp would ask me about tempos in the band: 'Jacquet,' he'd say, 'knock off that tempo.' A lot of jazz musicians didn't prefer to play for dancers, which was their loss, really. But good jazz has always had that dance feel." - Illinois Jacquet

"Jazz music and, more specifically, jazz musicians, are my artistic heroes. I want to be the Thelonious Monk of acting. He had no concern for how well he was received. He played whatever he wanted whenever he wanted. He just wasn't interested in achieving the good opinion of his audience. That's the Holy Grail of acting; of any art form." - Trevor St John

"I have always been a person who is concerned with the dignity of jazz music and the way jazz musicians have been treated and are treated, and the fact that the music has not been given the kind of due that it deserves." - Sonny Rollins

"Personally, I think young musicians need to learn to play more than one style. Jazz can only enhance the classical side, and classical can only enhance the jazz. I started out playing classical, because you have to have that as a foundation." - Doc Severinsen

"A respectable-sized audience hasn't really been able to follow developments in jazz since the free jazz movement in the '60s. Some of them can't even get with John Coltrane. Audiences are diminishing more and more rapidly. Some of the top young musicians with something new to say can't get record companies to put out their stuff." - Harvey Pekar

"Maybe a part of me recognized how right the improvising spirit of jazz is. Not the sounds, but the freedom to work with musicians who work that way. It felt very natural to me, but I think there's a way to do it without it being a jazz record." - Jane Siberry

"I have learned a lot from jazz. I compare good acting to jazz music. The more you study and prepare as an actor, the more equipped you are to live in the moment. Just like the gifted musicians in my dad's quartet, it takes a courageous actor to be free." - Nat Wolff

"I have a theory that musicians recognize each other and if they are destined to collaborate together they will. Mainly, they recognize each other according to the class they belong to. If they are punk-rocker kids from the neighborhood, they are going form a band. If they happen to be musicians that are going to play in pubs and restaurants, they are going to recognize each other, form a band and play together. If it's about musicians that are playing jazz and are going to jazz festivals, for e.g., then they are going to meet and work together." - Vlatko Stefanovski

"In the Bay Area, there was a resurgence of Dixieland jazz in the '40s - there was the Frisco Jazz Band, and Lu Watters and the Yerba Buena Jazz Band." - Clint Eastwood

"We don't live in a jazz world, unfortunately. I think if I had lived in a jazz world, I would have done OK. I'm not sure I would have done great. I'm a lover of jazz music, so I would have been happy, don't get me wrong. I go to jazz concerts like the biggest jazz fan in world. The drag is that I don't play jazz for a living." - George Benson

"Many jazz musicians affect a misunderstood-genius air when they play, which alienates the audience and breaks down the communications of the music. A musician's responsibility is to get as much of his art across as possible. Musicians used to be kept when only the rich could afford art, but now practically everyone can afford radios, stereo equipment, concert tickets, etc. A musician must learn to communicate to survive." - Gabor Szabo

"Something special can happen late at night in a jazz club. As the crowd thins, the musicians intuitively sense that those few who have stayed, have stayed for a reason. A reciprocity of need and desire inspires the musicians to dig as deeply into their talent and souls as they are able. This mysterious and transformative confluence of events rarely happens in concert. It is the province of the nightclub." - Patricia Barber

"I met Gary (Burton) at the Wichita Jazz Festival when I was 18 - he was one of my favorite musicians and I got to play a few tunes with him there. Shortly after that, I joined his band, which was the equivalent of joining the Beatles for me! He was, and still is, one of the greatest musicians I have ever been lucky enough to be around." - Pat Metheny

"As long as there is democracy, there will be people wanting to play jazz because nothing else will ever so perfectly capture the democratic process in sound. Jazz means working things out musically with other people. You have to listen to other musicians and play with them even if you don't agree with what they're playing. It teaches you the very opposite of racism and anti-Semitism. It teaches you that the world is big enough to accommodate us all." - Wynton Marsalis

"Jazz is the music of the body. The breath comes through brass. It is the body's breath, and the strings' wails and moans are echoes of the body's music. It is the body's vibrations which ripple from the fingers. And the mystery of the withheld theme, known to jazz musicians alone, is like the mystery of our secret life. We give to others only peripheral improvisations." - Anais Nin

"If you're making money people don't think you're playing Jazz. When you're not making money they think you're a great Jazz musician." - Pete Fountain

"Just because I'm playing Jazz I don't forget about me. I play or write me the way I feel through Jazz." - Charles Mingus

"Jazz music is a style, not compositions; any kind of music may be played in Jazz if one has the knowledge." - Jelly Roll Morton

"We all listened to a lot of recorded music, especially American jazz, modern jazz, and that's where our studies were and our inspiration came from." - Evan Parker

"I listen to jazz mainly. Mainstream jazz." - Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

"I listen to jazz mainly. Mainstream jazz." - Kareem Abduljabbar

"A painter paints pictures on canvas. But musicians paint their pictures on silence." - Leopold Stokowski

"Improvising musicians are musical travelers, voyagers. There is a freedom to wander the musical landscape." - Gary Burton

"You should never be comfortable, man. Being comfortable fouled up a lot of musicians." - Miles Davis

"Musicians have to suffer to a certain degree in order to obtain their outlet." - Chico Hamilton

"[Slogan of her 'Trouble Bureau' for needy artists and musicians:] Happiness is a change of trouble." - Malvina Hoffman

"I'm not all about money, but, like most musicians, I am about survival." - David Byrne

"Don't be ashamed of your own ideas. Most musicians get applauded for sounding like someone else." - Brian Eno

"A lot of musicians are really hard to deal with. They aren't as smart as me..." - Mark E Smith



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