Jazz Quotes

On Bebop:

  • You can’t sing it. You can’t dance it. May be you can’t even stand it. It’s Bebop”                                                        — Colliers Magazine
  • “All them weird chords which don’t mean a thing…you got no melody to remember, and no beat to dance to”

                                                                                        Louis Armstrong 

On Jazz musicians:

  •  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
  • A jazz musician is a juggler who uses harmonies instead of oranges.                                                        — Benny Green
  • Mogie, what have I done?”              

                         Helen More, on shooting dead her boyfriend, Lee Morgan

On baloney:

  • The outer space beings are my brothers. They sent me here. They already know my music.”                                                  —  Sun Ra

On the Avant Garde:

  • Contrary to general belief, an artist is never ahead of his time, but most people are far behind theirs.                                         —  Edgard Varèse

(Hat-tip The Blues Poodle for the  following)

On music and self- expression:

  • Art is self expression. If you are expressing someone else’s personality, that is not art.

                                                                                    — Bennie Wallace

  • Blues is to jazz what yeast is to bread–without it, it’s flat.

                                                                               — Carmen McRae

  • In the midst of creating, a person is raised to another level of consciousness that doesn’t have that much to do with everyday thinking. It’s as if you could imagine life before there were words.

                                                                                   — Charlie Haden

On being Miles Davis:

  • I’ll play it first and tell you what it is later.

                                                                                        — Miles Davis

9 thoughts on “Jazz Quotes

  1. Bill Evans had a great quote about the emerging jazz fusion scene at the beginning of the 70’s. The video is on youtube. It was shot in someone’s house in Sweden, I think, and features Bill with Marty Morrell and Eddie Gomez. In the interview segment, he said “It’s like a crying baby. No one can say that this baby’s cry doesn’t mean something, but you wouldn’t call it art.” I think that quote basically summed up a lot of that genre perfectly. 😉


  2. Overheard in a jazz record shop some years ago.
    The only Free Jazz I play is when I don’t get paid at the end of the f****** night !


  3. “I once bought that album of yours, the one you recorded back in 1997.”
    “Oh – that was you, wasn’t it?”


      • I counted the good lady’s shoe collection, numbered just over 300 pairs. At the time I had around 1,000 records. I said she has only one pair of feet, she said I have only one pair of ears. Somewhere the technical substance of the argument fell over. I’ve not found a long-term solution, more a mutual cessation of hostilities. You have to avoid the killer argument: “perhaps we need a bigger house”: a solution that is worse than the problem.


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