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Jazz master Ira Sullivan teaches youngsters how to swing

How does the magnificent Ira Sullivan sound with a big band?

Until Thursday night, that was hard to say, because the former Chicagoan rarely appears with one here (or anywhere else).

o his performance with the DePaul University Jazz Ensemble at the Jazz Showcase, where they're cutting a live recording this week, was historic. All the more because Sullivan performed new arrangements penned for the occasion by DePaul faculty and students, under the guidance of Bob Lark, the school's director of jazz studies.

No one in the large audience could have been surprised by Sullivan's panache as soloist, but the nature of his playing diverged a bit from expectations. For the 79-year-old musician...

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Jazz swings back onto TV in HBO's drama 'Treme'

At last, an antidote to Ken Burns' dismal, 2001 TV documentary, "Jazz."

No, the new HBO dramatic series "Treme" isn't a doc and doesn't pretend to be. But it presents jazz, and related New Orleans genres, on national TV in a major way for the first time in nearly a decade. Better still, it does so with the vitality, joy and street-level authenticity so sorely lacking in Burns' stultifying, 19-hour "Jazz" (which aired over several weeks on PBS).

In so doing, "Treme" — named for America's oldest black neighborhood, in New Orleans — stands to alter America's perception of...

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Sleepy Jazz Scene Shows Signs of Awakening

A recent Sunday afternoon jazz matinee at Café Royale was a sleepy affair. About 15 people, most of them middle-aged, sat around this ramshackle downtown San Francisco bar sipping tea and wine while a saxophone, drum and bass trio played a mellow mixture of mostly standards. The noise of rustling bags of pistachios and yogurt-covered pretzels, which several audience members had taken along for snacks, accompanied the polite applause at the end of each number. Anyone who stopped by the Café Royale that afternoon to take the pulse of the local jazz scene would have reason to declare it faint.

Clichés about jazz’s being a dying art form — the province of a generation reminiscing about the “good old days” of smoky clubs...

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New Home for Jazz in San Francisco

With many businesses and nonprofit groups contracting in a sour economy, SF Jazz is making waves with a bold proposal for an expansion, as our sister blog, ArtsBeat, reports. The arts organization, which runs the San Francisco Jazz Festival, plans to open the SF Jazz Center in Hayes Valley in the fall of 2012.

“A project like this is difficult to do in any economy,” said Randall Kline, the founder and executive artistic director of SF Jazz. “We are lucky to have the support of people who are passionate about this artistic expression with the capacity to give generously to our organization.”

Half of the $60 million for the center has already been raised, including $20 million from an anonymous donor. The organization claims that gift is “the largest ever given to a jazz institution.”

The 35,000-square-foot building will be located at Fell Street and Franklin Street. Those passing by will be able to see inside the building’s public spaces and lobbies to the bustle within. The architect will be Mark Cavagnero, who is known for his energy-saving constructions and who recently designed the renovation at the Oakland Museum.

Mr. Kline called Mr. Cavagnero a “rational architect.” Everything in the building will be adjusted for SF Jazz’s top priority: music. That includes any artwork or embellishment. The details must serve the audience’s listening experience and the musicians’ various styles.

The latter will be the most difficult challenge, Mr. Kline said. SF Jazz is known for its variety from bluegrass to Spanish flamenco jazz artists, some who prefer acoustic instruments. This means creating a space that can suit a symphony on one night and an amplified rock band the next, while seating 700.

SF Jazz hopes to hold four concerts a week at the new building, raising the number of total concerts annually to 150. The new center will also offer educational lectures and a digital music lab for producing, recording and rehearsing. It will also be home base for the SF Jazz Collective, the eight-man jazz ensemble.

About $10 million for the project will be for the operating endowment. The other $50 million will be for the property, design and construction. Mr. Kline started SF Jazz in 1983 with a $10,000 grant.

Friends Gathered Around in Celebration of Bechet

The gig by the clarinetist Evan Christopher on Monday night took place in a theater, but the language of the show was house party. It was sponsored by the Sidney Bechet Society, which since 1997 has promoted music associated with Bechet — which is to say New Orleans and Chicago jazz of the 1920s.

Enthusiasm and advocacy run high in the society, as they do in many of the small organizations that support early jazz. Many of its board members seemed to occupy the front rows of the theater — the Lucille Lortel, in the West Village — and talked to the band between numbers.

A Californian who moved to New Orleans in the mid-’90s, a working musician and part-time academic, Mr. Christopher has been striving to figure out the essence of musicians like Bechet (who died in 1959) not just through archives and recordings but also through performance.

As an improviser, he has lots of tools — equal facility in the full range of his instrument, switching in and out of triplet phrasing, storytelling and theme building. But what impresses you most about his solos is their immediacy. He has a thick tone with a hoarse edge, and he’ll often play a simple phrase with complicated emotion rather than vice versa; he’s not glib or lighthearted.

It’s strong stuff, so Ken Peplowski, a traditional-jazz clarinetist of a different sort, was his guest and foil. His style is lighter and quieter, more nuanced and more outwardly virtuosic; this worked well against and around Mr. Christopher’s playing.

The set kept up a double consciousness: recherché and gutbucket. It included Hoagy Carmichael’s “Jubilee,” James P. Johnson’s “Porter’s Love Song to a Chambermaid,” Rodgers and Hart’s “Ship Without a Sail” and Tommy Ladnier’s “Mojo Blues” — the kind of list that only a scholar would put together. But then frontline entertainers in this music are scholars by definition.

Knowing your subject means knowing there’s more you can do with it. In “Apex Blues,” which Jimmy Noone recorded in 1929, Mr. Christopher began alone, bending notes softly, playing more like a saxophonist; Mr. Peplowski answered with big-leap intervals, and the stately song started moving. In Mr. Christopher’s second solo, a single bending note ran to nearly four bars; he finished the chorus with growls, slurs and flutters. The guitarist James Chirillo backed him with steady quarter-note rhythm played in resourceful, Jim Hall-like ways, then broke into a Chicago blues-style solo.

The band members — who also included the bassist Boots Maleson and the drummer Jackie Williams — talked back to the crowd and among themselves. Mr. Peplowski told stories about the long war of nerves between Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw. And at one point Mr. Christopher talked about why he started playing the clarinet. “I blame Artie Shaw,” he said. “I read his autobiography, and I knew I wanted to grow up to be a grumpy old man.”

A Jazzman’s Final Refuge

Hank Jones, the legendary jazz pianist, led an oddly bifurcated existence toward the end of his 91 years on earth.

He stayed active till the very end, collecting a Grammy last year and touring the world. But when he wasn’t on the road, he lived in near isolation in a 12-by-12-foot room at 108th Street and Broadway, ordering in three meals a day from the diner downstairs and practicing incessantly on an electric keyboard plugged into headphones.

“He was worried he would bother the neighbors,” said Mr. Jones’s roommate and landlord, Manny Ramirez. “The neighbors would ask, ‘Why don’t we hear Hank anymore?’ I said, ‘He locks himself in his room all the time.’”

On Sunday, Mr. Jones died at a hospice in the Bronx, only a few weeks after returning from Japan.

On Monday night, Mr. Ramirez entered Mr. Jones’s room to begin cleaning it out.

Mr. Jones had left it locked and deadbolted. Mr. Ramirez, 66, took a hammer and large chisel, bashed a hole in the door, stuck his hand through and opened it.

He switched on the light and there was the room: suitcases, sheet music and jazz awards cluttered around an unmade bed. On the cluttered night-table was a book of Sherlock Holmes stories.

Scattered about were CDs of Debussy, Ravel and Chopin. In the clothes closets were designer neckties and sharp-looking suits. On one shelf was a supply of light bulbs. On another were a coffee maker and an unopened bottle of fine Champagne. Nearby were three large leather music folders: for piano, bass and drums.

The Yamaha electric piano had a pair of headphones lying on the keyboard and a music exercise book still on the music stand, along with one of Mr. Jones’s compositions.

“He would practice while listening to classical music – classical was his favorite music,” Mr. Ramirez said.

Mr. Ramirez, who would occasionally take Mr. Jones to visit his wife in an assisted-care facility upstate, said that in general, he was unable to pull Mr. Jones out of his reclusion.

“I’d say, ‘Come on, Hank, watch some sports with me,’” he recalled. “But he’d say, ‘Nope, got to practice.’ He was still a perfectionist at age 91 — 2 or 3 in the morning, it didn’t matter. I wondered, ‘When does he sleep?’”

Lisa Gersten, who lives in the next apartment, walked in. She too knew Mr. Jones. Her three daughters would listen to him play from outside the room. She went and got a photograph of two of her daughters and Mr. Jones posing with his Grammy award.

“He kept it in a box like a pair of shoes,” said Ms. Gersten.

“It’s been a real New York experience, living next to him,” she added. “You never know who your neighbors are in this city.” After Mr. Jones agreed to jam with one of her musician friends, she wrote a note to him and taped it to his door.

On Monday night the note remained there. It read simply: “Thank You, Thank You, Thank You.”

"A Great Night in Harlem"

When the greatest jazz bass player of all-time takes the stage on Thursday night, May 20th it will part of an All Star jazz concert at Harlem's world famous Apollo Theater. It's called "A Great Night In Harlem" and that's certain to be an understatement. I wish I could be there, for no other reason than to once again see and hear the great Ron Carter. He will be joined by a stellar cast of jazz and blues musicians - all playing on the same stage where the likes of Stevie Wonder, James Brown and John Lennon once cavorted with wild abandon, where the legends Sarah Vaughan, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and Patti LaBelle once sang till your heart broke in pieces. The event is a benefit for the Jazz Foundation of America.

If you're not familiar with the Jazz Foundation of America, perhaps their mission statement says enough - "Saving jazz and blues... one musician at a time." And when they say "Saving" they really mean it. When the great Fats Domino, a resident in New Orleans' Ninth Ward, became a victim of Katrina, it was the Jazz Foundation of America that stepped in on his side. Fats lost everything, all his worldly belongings including his piano. Take away Fats Domino's piano, you might as well take his heart. The Jazz Foundation arranged for a new piano for The Fat Man. They didn't just call a piano company and get a donation. They had that piano trucked down to Louisiana and delivered right to him. They saved the blues that day, for Fats and for all of us.

When the great folk singer, that powerful voice and unforgettable American personality called Odetta, was a struggling 75 year-old woman, the Jazz Foundation of America made sure she kept her home and eventually paid for a private room in a nursing home. So many others, perhaps less famous than Fats Domino or Odetta, but equally deserving have also been helped by the Jazz Foundation - people like Johnnie Mae Dunson and a homeless Sweet Georgia Brown.

On May 20th the Jazz Foundation of America will not only fill the Apollo Theater's great hall with music to match the venue's history, they will also honor, among others, Ambassador Andrew Young. As one who has lived more than half my life in Atlanta, I know Andy Young as a courageous fighter for justice in America - at a time when you took your life in your hands to do such work - and as the Mayor so responsible for making Atlanta a great international city. On a personal note, I will always remember when Ambassador Young took the time to call me, in 2005, to wish me well as I waited for a heart transplant.

If you're in New York City next Thursday, buy a ticket. If not, make a donation. The music will be fantastic and the money well spent. I'll be counting on Atlanta's former Mayor to soak up all the pleasure I wish I could when Ron Carter takes to the Apollo stage.

Rob McConnell, Musician and Big Band Leader, Dies at 75

Rob McConnell, a jazz trombonist, composer and arranger who led one of the few successful big bands to emerge in the 1960s, died on May 1 in Toronto, where he lived. He was 75.

The cause was cancer, said his wife, Anne Gibson.

Mr. McConnell’s ensemble, the Boss Brass, was unusual in several ways. For one thing, it was a critical and financial success despite being formed in 1968, long after the heyday of big bands had ended. For another, it was based in Canada, a country better known as the birthplace of jazz musicians who gained fame elsewhere.

The instrumentation of the Boss Brass was uncommon as well. Unlike virtually every other big band in the annals of jazz, its original configuration consisted entirely of trumpets, trombones, French horns and a rhythm section, but no saxophones. Mr. McConnell later added a five-piece saxophone section, giving his ensemble yet another distinction by making it considerably bigger than the average big band.

Mr. McConnell and the Boss Brass recorded prolifically, mostly for the Concord Jazz label, and were probably best known for the two albums they made with the singer Mel Tormé. Mr. McConnell won the last of his three Grammy Awards in 1996 for his arrangement of “I Get a Kick Out of You” on his second collaboration with Tormé, “Velvet & Brass.”

Robert Murray Gordon McConnell was born in London, Ontario, on Feb. 14, 1935, and was a busy studio musician and arranger in Canada before forming the Boss Brass. In 1997 he broke up that band and formed a 10-piece ensemble, with which he continued to work until 2006. The Boss Brass briefly reunited in 2008; its last concert was at the Toronto Jazz Festival on July 1, 2009 — Canada Day.

Mr. McConnell’s first wife, the former Margaret Bowman, died in 2005. In addition to Ms. Gibson, he is survived by a son, Brian; two daughters, Jennifer Vaandering and Robin McConnell; a brother, Dan; a sister, Marion Bienvenue; and seven grandchildren.

Lincoln Theatre revue 'Duke Ellington's Sophisticated Ladies' is a smash hit

These words, written by musician Wynton Marsalis, appear projected onto a screen on the softly lit stage, all dreamy-like. An ode to Duke Ellington:

"He didn't sleep at night. He believed that there were two kinds of music: the good kind and the other kind. He was the world's most prolific composer of blues, blueses of all shapes and sizes. Wrote music in all 12 known keys and some keys that are still unknown. Wrote music about the human experience; if it was experienced, he stylized it. In other words, Duke Ellington had a lot on his mind."

During the final act of the razzmatazz hit "Duke Ellington's Sophisticated Ladies," the show's star, Maurice Hines, tap, tap, taps, in a black tux lined with silver sparkles. He snaps his fingers. Snap. Snap. Snap. Gives one of those cool-cat, jazz looks. Agile, as he pops across the stage. His cast, in dazzling costumes, dance beside him.

Then Hines says, in the words of Ellington, to everyone seated before them: "We love you madly!"

Hah! The audience leaps to its feet and someone yells "We love you madly, too!" And the crowd explodes into applause, booming in the historic Lincoln Theatre on U Street NW. This revival show brings crowds night after night, making "Sophisticated Ladies" the highest grossing show in the history of Arena Stage. Its run at the Lincoln Theatre, which began April 15, was first extended through June 6, then to June 27. The crowd-pleaser ran on Broadway for 767 performances between March 1981 and January 1983.

"When they told us we broke the 60-year-old box office record, it was a thrill," says Hines, who choreographed it. He is sitting backstage in his dressing room, a star on his door. "You can't break a record like that without the audience loving the show and you can't break it without repeat business. I walk by the marquee on the way to the stage door and I hear people say, 'This is my third time seeing the show. This is my fourth time seeing it.' And it thrills me. It proves the legacy of the great Duke Ellington."

The legacy of Ellington, considered one of the "most prolific composers of the 20th century," is entwined with the history of U Street. This is Ellington's old stamping ground. "He started in the basement of this theater," Hines says. "It was destiny we do it here."

The show comes at a time when U Street has been resurrected and gentrified, and the actors and the theater reached out to the community in creative ways. Actors have gone to churches and schools and taught tap to students. They've offered jazz classes, hip-hop classes. The casting director invited the public to a discussion about the casting process. "I've never seen a regional theater do anything like this," says cast member Richard Riaz Yoder. "It blows my mind."

The show, a musical revue, celebrates the life and music of Ellington, who was born in Washington in 1899. Ellington grew up around the corner from the theater, on 13th Street NW. He played in jazz clubs and joints on U Street, including the Lincoln Colonnade, a public hall in the basement of the Lincoln Theatre, which was built in 1922.

During the 1920s, U Street was called the Black Broadway and starred, among others, Count Basie, Cab Calloway, Louis Armstrong, Moms Mabley, Bessie Smith, Hattie McDaniel and Billy Eckstine.

"Everyone says this show looks like a Broadway show," says Charles Randolph-Wright, the director, who did original research at the Smithsonian to find images, video and obscure facts on Ellington used in the show. "We had to do it right. I kept saying, 'Duke will haunt us if this doesn't look right.' " Ellington's image is pervasive within the U Street corridor. A mural depicting the jazz great can be seen across the street from the theater's entrance. "I was staying in the Ellington Apartments down the street when we were rehearsing," Randolph-Wright says. "You walk out on U Street and you can feel Duke's presence. I would walk out the front door and feel the pulse of what art was in the '20s."

The show tells a story of the man, following Ellington from his childhood in D.C. to Harlem, where he rose to international fame. The show displays Ellington's genius with such hits as "It Don't Mean a Thing If It Ain't Got That Swing," "I Love You Madly" and "I Got It Bad and That Ain't Good."

It travels to the Cotton Club. The Savoy. Paris. Hollywood. A cool cat with fabulous style who loved life and loved women.

"Oh, you're killing me, baby!" yells an actress.

Hines in a chocolate suit, portraying Duke as a ladies' man, sings to a woman on a pink sofa.

"I ain't gonna tease you, mama."

'A feel for the city'

Before the show opened, the cast did a walking history tour of U Street. "The tour included some public businesses, houses and clubs," says tour guide Kim Roberts, a literary historian and editor of the Beltway Poetry Quarterly. "The idea was to let the performers get a feel for the city. They got so excited. When I got to the house that Ellington lived in as a teenager, they were jumping up and down." Ellington lived in two red brick houses on 13th Street.

Roberts showed the cast Ben's Chili Bowl, originally a nickelodeon theater. And what is now "Ben's Next Door," but was once the "Jungle Inn" managed by pianist Jelly Roll Morton. They went to the True Reformer's Hall at 12th and U streets, where Ellington had his first paid gig as a musician, and the 12th Street Y, one of the places where Langston Hughes rented rooms. They ended up at what is now the Arena Stage costume shop at 14th and T streets, which was a famous jazz club at the time called Club Bali.

"There are businesses all around U Street that Duke Ellington would have gone to," Roberts says.

'It blows my mind'

In October 2009, the theater sponsored "a series of free, advanced jazz and hip-hop masters classes -- an opportunity for local talent to dance with and learn from a legend," says Molly Smith, the theater's artistic director. Then the theater held an open audition for the show. That is where two young brothers, John, 17, and Leo Manzari, 15, stood out; Hines plucked them from the crowd to make their professional debut.

The brothers, who attend the Field School in Northwest Washington, have thrilled younger audiences. The two dance in the spotlight with Hines -- who with his brother, Gregory Hines, was cast in Francis Ford Coppola's 1984 film "The Cotton Club."

"Maurice is gracious," says Nancy Newell, owner of D.C. Dance Collective, where Leo and John take ballet classes. "He basically gives Leo and John the second act. It is reminiscent of what would happen in the Cotton Club."

Last Wednesday, students from across the city attended a matinee. "I have heard it compared to a rock concert of the Beatles or Jonas Brothers," says Rebecca Campana, a staff member of Arena Stage. "Girls were screaming whenever the Manzari brothers came on stage, some of them were reaching toward the stage, almost crawling toward it. I have never had to stand in front of the stairs to the stage after a performance to keep students from going backstage. It was unreal."

On Tuesday, members of the cast, Kristyn Pope and Cassie Abate, led tap jam sessions with members of the public who have scrambled on stage for a chance to be in the spotlight. Pope, in a blue shirt and silver shoes, calls out: "Heel, tap, tap and heel, push back. Five, six, seven, eight." And amazingly, the members of the public follow in unison. "Girls feel free to sass it up, add a little hip," Pope says.

Newell, wearing black leotards with pink trim, slides on stage and jams. She dances beside board members and students and actors trying to get a break, and rhythm tap legend Baakari Wilder in purple shoes. The show, Newell says, has been a hit because it is like "happy MGM musicals done to make people feel better" in dire economic times.

"Broadway tap was made to look easy, to take people's minds away from reality," Newell says. "A man in tails suddenly dancing with a woman in a beautiful dress. Tap dancing makes people feel good. In this show, there are great numbers that make people happy."

Susan Peevy, 45, a postal worker who lives in Rockville and who has brought more than 500 people to the show, sits in the balcony watching the jam. She has brought colleagues, church members and Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority sisters week after week to the show. "I send my own little e-mails and I wrote my own review of the performance," she says. "I'm willing to do it if it means you will be exposed to the arts."

On Saturday, during intermission, Teresa James, 33, who lives in Alexandria, Rhonda Thomas, 46, who lives in Bowie, and Susan James, 62, who lives in Southwest, sit in awe.

"I personally love Duke Ellington's music," James says.

Just then, as if Ellington were tapping her on he shoulder, a man in the row in front of James extends his hand.

"Will you dance with me?" asks Mel Cohen, 83, a bookseller from Long Island, who came here Saturday from New York. "I only dance with beautiful women."

"We need music," James insists.

"Music is in your ears," Cohen says. "Listen. What do you hear?"

"Ballroom music," James says.

One, two, three, four. He swirls her around. Two strangers dancing on their own set, a prim black woman dancing with a white man with flowing white hair -- in the aisle of the Lincoln Theatre.

The Duke, you think, would have loved it madly.

Danilo Perez Quotes

"[Dizzy Gillespie's] music brings a joyful experience. This is one of the things that we have to keep in jazz." - Danilo Perez

Danilo Perez Quotes

"I call Dizzy [Gillespie] the global jazz ambassador. He spent his life looking for the common tones with Africa, with Latin America, even with India. He did a lot of experiments. He brought a lot of people from different backgrounds together." - Danilo Perez

Taking Dizzy's music to exotic places

In a way, it was almost inevitable that the Panamanian pianist Danilo Perez would organize "Things to Come: 21st Century Dizzy," an exploration of the music of Dizzy Gillespie playing Friday night at Symphony Center.

Perez had worked in Gillespie's United Nation Orchestra in the 1980s, a role that not only helped launch Perez's international career but, equally important, tuned him in to Gillespie's global view of music. For with the United Nation Orchestra, and with musical experiments dating to the 1940s, Gillespie showed that the future of jazz would embrace cultural traditions from around the planet.

So when Perez takes the stage this evening, he'll be partnering with a far-flung collection of players, including Puerto Rican saxophonist David Sanchez, Iraqi-American trumpeter (and former Chicagoan) Amir ElSaffar and Indian-American saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa.

"I call Dizzy the global jazz ambassador," says Perez. "He spent his life looking for the common tones with Africa, with Latin America, even with India.

"He did a lot of experiments. He brought a lot of people from different backgrounds together."

None of Gillespie's cross-cultural ventures was more influential than his work in the 1940s with arranger Maurio Bauza and percussionist Chano Pozo, both Cubans. This groundbreaking partnership produced jazz classics such as "Tin Tin Deo," "Manteca" and "Cubana Be, Cubana Bop." It also opened new possibilities for Latin jazz and encouraged subsequent generations of musicians to explore their own cultural roots — through jazz.

Few of Gillespie's disciples have carried his mission of globalization further than Perez, whose work with saxophonist Sanchez and others during the past 20 years has brought vivid ethnic currents into jazz.

Which is precisely Perez's goal.

"The way Dizzy talked to me at the end of his life, I felt really responsible" to continue Gillespie's mission, says Perez.

"When you played with Dizzy, you found yourself with people from so many different backgrounds. He encouraged us to look for the common tones in our own music and in our own roots. He always talked about Latinos learning more about jazz, and jazz musicians learning more about Latin America.

"I think his Bahai faith also played a role in this desire."

For Friday night's program, Perez and friends will be applying Gillespie's lessons to Gillespie's music, with several of the musicians creating world-music versions of classic works such as "Salt Peanuts" (reimagined by Mahanthappa), "Manteca" (newly arranged by Perez), and "Woody 'n You" (rewritten by Sanchez).

Even reconceived via the techniques of India, Panama and Puerto Rico, however, these tunes convey Gillespie's central message, says Perez.

"When I play his music, I feel very optimistic," says Perez. "His music brings a joyful experience. This is one of the things that we have to keep in jazz."

Lena Horne Quotes

"I found out along the way that they like you a little imperfect." - Lena Horne

Lena Horne Quotes

"I learned from Ethel Waters, Duke Ellington, Adelaide Hall, the Nicholas Brothers, the whole thing, the whole schmear. [The Cotton Club] was a great place because it hired us, for one thing, at a time when it was really rough [for Black performers]." - Lena Horne

Lena Horne Quotes

"I had my schooling right there in the Cotton Club." - Lena Horne

Lena Horne Quotes

"You wouldn't be allowed to get on a particular bus, but you'd be asked to sign your autograph." - Lena Horne

Dee Dee Bridgewater Quotes

"There wouldn't be a Halle Berry or an Angela Bassett or a Cicely Tyson if there hadn't been a Lena Horne." - Dee Dee Bridgewater

Legendary singer, civil rights activist Lena Horne dies

Her luminous beauty -- seen in doe-like eyes set against perfectly chiseled cheekbones -- helped make her one of the first black women to triumph in Hollywood.

Her radiant vocals -- tinged with the sorrow of the blues -- placed her in an elite class of singers known globally by their first names alone, such as Ella (Fitzgerald) and Billie (Holiday) and Sarah (Vaughan).

Her unblinking defiance of the racism of her era -- which once inspired her to hurl a table lamp and other objects at a bigoted heckler -- established her as an impassioned figure of the civil rights era.

Lena Horne, the last of a pantheon of black divas who helped thrust African-American culture into the American mainstream, died Sunday at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, at age 92.

"There wouldn't be a Halle Berry or an Angela Bassett or a Cicely Tyson if there hadn't been a Lena Horne," said Dee Dee Bridgewater, the Grammy- and Tony Award -winning singer-actress, who, like generations of performers, counted Horne as an inspiration.

"She crossed the color barriers, even though she had to fight to get there," added Bridgewater.

"She held a special place where blacks could view her as a heroine, at a time when we needed heroes," observed David Baker, distinguished professor of music at Indiana University, in Bloomington, Ind.

Ms. Horne "maintained a place of dignity that belied the way blacks were treated at the time," added Baker. Indeed, whether glowing in 1940s films such as "Stormy Weather" or conquering Broadway in 1950s musicals such as "Jamaica" or reaching new audiences with her autobiographical show "Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music" in the 1980s, the singer exuded an aura of heightened elegance and refinement. That she was able to extend her distinct musical-dramatic franchise well into the 1990s, releasing several jazz CDs and winning her second Grammy for one of them, "An Evening with Lena Horne" (1995), gave her career an epic span, for it stretched back to 1934, when she bowed at the fabled Cotton Club, in Harlem.

Yet practically every aspect of Ms. Horne's life was marked by emotional turmoil, starting with a comfortably middle-class childhood interrupted by hardships when her parents separated. Beneath the high sheen of her show-biz persona, in other words, Ms. Horne struggled with issues of race, privilege, deprivation and social consciousness.

"So many of the things that happened were so ridiculous, you know?" she said in a rare Chicago Tribune interview, in 1998, retaining a hint of the Southern drawl the Brooklyn-born singer acquired growing up in Georgia, when her mother traveled the South as an itinerant actress.

"You wouldn't be allowed to get on a particular bus, but you'd be asked to sign your autograph."

Well before Ms. Horne faced such situations, however, her family imbued her with a sense of pride that would define her racial attitudes thereafter. Early on, she learned of the impressive legacy of her forebears: Her paternal grandmother held key positions with the NAACP and the National Urban League; her grandfather was the first black member of the Brooklyn Board of Education; her uncle served as an adviser on race relations to President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

And Ms. Horne never forgot the words of her grandmother, who "taught me about facing down, you know, looking people in their eyes and saying, 'I don't like it,' " when a wrong had been committed, she said in the Tribune interview.

That philosophy steeled her for the travails ahead, beginning at the Cotton Club, where she worked as a chorus girl performing for whites-only audiences to help support her struggling mother and stepfather.

"I had my schooling right there in the Cotton Club," said Ms. Horne, describing a celebrated venue where the country's greatest black artists played to wide acclaim, but under dismal conditions and for minuscule pay ($25 a week for three nightly shows , seven nights a week, in Ms. Horne's case).

"I learned from Ethel Waters, Duke Ellington, Adelaide Hall, the Nicholas Brothers, the whole thing, the whole schmear," she added, in describing her self-styled musical education. "That was a great place because it hired us, for one thing, at a time when it was really rough [for performers of color]."

But when she decided she wanted to step into the Cotton Club spotlight as a soloist and her stepfather began lobbying on her behalf, one of the club's owners "beat him up and they pushed his head down a toilet and told him to shut his mouth," she recalled in a New York Times interview.

Ms. Horne fled the club and soon was touring the country with the black bandleader Noble Sissle , in the mid-1930s , and shattering racial precedents by performing with white bandleaders such as Artie Shaw and Charlie Barnet in the early 1940s.

She quickly emerged a major black singer of the era, the amber tone of her voice and the implicit swing rhythms of her phrases helping to bring African-American musical vernacular into the popular culture.

"Her voice was very distinctive -- you could tell Lena Horne anywhere," said Samuel Floyd, Jr., founder of the Center for Black Music Research at Columbia College Chicago . "I don't know that anybody could match that sound."

"It was a quality of voice that drew you in like Nat Cole's voice," said Baker, the Indiana University professor. "She had wonderful pitch, extraordinary range. She could do any kind of tune, from a love ballad to a swing piece, and make it convincing."

Perhaps inevitably, the luster of Horne's vocals, as well as her stunning good looks, won her cameos in major musical films. In 1943 alone she sang the title song in "Stormy Weather" (swathed in a glittering gown) and performed in "Cabin in the Sky," "Thousands Cheer," "I Dood It" and "Swing Fever." Musical sequences in '40s pictures such as "Broadway Rhythm," "Ziegfeld Follies," "Till the Clouds Roll By" and "Words and Music" made her an internationally known artist.

She became, as she once said, "the first Negro sex symbol" (though devotees of Josephine Baker might have disagreed). But because Ms. Horne refused to take the roles of maids and prostitutes routinely accorded black actresses in that time, her movie career was confined to musical performances and never fully blossomed.

Moreover, her outspoken manner did not endear her to Hollywood chieftains or to certain aspects of the movie-going public. In a notorious incident during World War II , she walked onstage at a USO show at Ft. Riley, Kan., only to see that German prisoners of war were sitting in front of black American soldiers.

Ms. Horne rebelled.

"I just walked off the stage and went up and sang to the back of the room," she remembered, in the Tribune interview. "It happened a couple of times, and they finally said, 'Get her out of the USO.'

"I just reacted as Lena, you know."

The movie star was becoming a lightning rod for criticism, her scenes -- like those of many other black performers -- excised from films when they were distributed in the South. Her second marriage, in 1947 to the white MGM composer-arranger Lennie Hayton, inspired violent threats and obscene mail after they went public, in 1950.

Though Ms. Horne was under consideration to star as Julie in the 1951 film musical "Show Boat," the role went to Ava Gardner.

Ms. Horne's close friendship with the politically active singer-actor Paul Robeson, who she said "helped me come to an understanding about my people," helped finish off her Hollywood career. Widely condemned in anti-Communist publications for her association with Robeson -- whose career also was ruined in the era of the "Red scare" -- she turned her back on the movies by the mid-'50s.

"I never had the great urge to be in the movies in the first place, only because I saw that it was Tarzan or nothing," she said in the Tribune interview. "I never fell for the myth. So when I saw the way things were going, I just got on out."

Instead, she focused on nightclubs and Broadway musicals, winning particular acclaim in Harold Arlen and Yip Harburg's "Jamaica," opening on New Year's Eve, 1957.

Yet she never flinched from battles as she encountered them. When a patron in a posh Beverly Hills restaurant referred to her by a vile racial epithet, in 1960, she flung the aforementioned table lamp, several glasses and an ashtray at him.

Her rage, she often explained, owed in part to the strange position she found herself in: A major black star somewhat ostracized by Hollywood yet wealthy enough to have been isolated from everyday black life in America, as well.

But she found release for this anger in the civil rights wars of the '60s, she said, working with the National Council of Negro Women, the Delta Sigma Theta sorority, the Urban League and other organizations.

Even so, she faced several personal tragedies. In 1967, she was devastated by the death of composer Billy Strayhorn, arguably her closest friend.

"They had matched souls ... she really never got over his passing," said Alyce Claerbaut , the composer's niece. A few years later, in the early 1970s, Ms. Horne suffered -- within the period of a few months -- the deaths of her father, her 29-year-old son and her husband, Hayton.

"I started to change when everybody left me, when I found out that the worst had happened to me and I was surviving," she told the Tribune. "I began to think about myself, to look back at what I had been given and what I hadn't had. And I slowly grew into my other self."

By that she meant a performer who started to show vulnerability in front of the public, rather than just an unattainable elegance. The perfect veneer began to crack, and audiences loved it.

"I was never really aloof -- that was people's image of me -- but it came about because I didn't ever think that I should be anything but perfect for the audience," she said in the Tribune interview.

"I found out along the way that they like you a little imperfect."

So well into her 60s, she began turning in some of the best work of her career.

"At first she was not as deep as Ethel [Waters]," said the noted Chicago jazz singer Geraldine de Haas, in citing Ms. Horne's first great influence. "But she grew to be."

Certainly her 1981 Broadway show "The Lady and Her Music," which won a Tony , represented a new pinnacle for her, pairing her now searing music with surprisingly candid stage commentary.

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"The most awesome performer to hit Broadway in years," observed Newsweek.

"Sorry, this has to be a love letter," opined Clive Barnes , in the New York Post.

"The lady's range, energy, originality, humor, anger and intelligence are simply not to be believed," wrote Walter Kerr in the New York Times.

But Ms. Horne wasn't done yet. A series of recordings in the 1990s for Blue Note Records , one of the world's leading jazz label, reminded listeners of her stature as musician, even as she progressed into her ninth decade. Though a slight vocal wobble was apparent on discs such as "Live at the Supper Club" and "We'll Be Together Again" (an homage to Strayhorn) , the interpretive wisdom and signature sound of Horne's work made them late-in-life classics.

Last year, she was the subject of a 608-page biography, "Stormy Weather: The Life of Lena Horne," by James Gavin. When Ms. Horne was told by a journalist that the likes of Ella, Billie, Sarah and -- of course, Lena -- never would be heard again, she demurred.

"Oh, I'd love to be thought that good," she said in the Tribune interview. "That's a compliment, but I'm not sure I'm the last. "I certainly hope not."

Mose Allison Quotes

"As far as I'm concerned, the essentials of jazz are: melodic improvisation, melodic invention, swing, and instrumental personality." - Mose Allison

Dave Mustaine Quotes

"I like jazz, but I could never play it. You just sit there with a guitar the size of a Chevy on your chest, wearing a stupid hat, playing the same solo for an hour." - Dave Mustaine

Norman Granz Quotes

"The public, hearing pop music, is, without knowing it, also soaking up jazz." - Norman Granz

Don Cherry Quotes

"Music is one of the arts that make a person completely naked." - Don Cherry

Lee Morgan Quotes

The symphonic orchestras have sponsors, people who give them endowments, and I think it should be the same way with jazz - because this is a national treasure." - Lee Morgan

Rahsaan Roland Kirk Quotes

"You don't see the European classical musicians allowing the music of Bach, Brahms, or Beethoven to become extinct. That music has gone on for centuries and centuries. We have the same obligation. Why do we have to become so 'hip' that we can say, 'Bebop is square,' or "New Orleans is square'? This, to me, is a shame." - Rahsaan Roland Kirk

Keith Jarrett Quotes

"If sound is music and came from silence, then silence is potentially greater than sound. If the sound is effective, it should actually have a chemical - some sort of physiological - effect on the listener, so he doesn't have to hear that sound again." - Keith Jarrett

Count Basie Quotes

"I never thought innovation as such was very important. Not when you have to think about it... If you're going to come up with a new direction or a really new way to do something, you'll do it by just playing your stuff and letting it ride. The real innovators did their innovating by just being themselves." - Count Basie

Joe Williams Quotes

"The louder they [the band] play the softer I sing." - Joe Williams

Abbey Lincoln Quotes

"The best thing you can do is to be a woman and stand before the world and speak your heart." - Abbey Lincoln

David Murray Quotes

"I call [the 'Young Lions'] neo-con artists. That's my new term 'cause they call
themselves neo-conservatives. They're conning the public into thinking that nothing happened in jazz since the 50's, including some of the great innovations from John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Miles Davis and everybody who was happening during that time. They're conning the public into thinking that they're the guys who actually created this stuff, when actually they're just playing a tired version of some music that really has some fire to it." - David Murray

David Murray Quotes

"I sat up listening to George Butler tell me one year that he's
bringing out 200 albums, and all of 'em from people who are dead. And that'll really make jazz go on? That's some really dumb shit. Fuckin' macabre necrophilia or some shit! And then he's going to put out the Marsalis boys. There's some dead guys again!" - David Murray

George Shearing Quotes

"Hank Jones is so good, he should be deported." - George Shearing

Barry Ulanov Quotes

"Getting into jazz singing professionally is chiefly a matter of developing a stoical disregard for decent food, decent lodgings and a decent income." - Barry Ulanov

Larry Ridley Quotes

"Every individual has to find his own identity. Jazz is a language. Understanding the vocabulary, syntax, everything involved, and putting it all together-that's what jazz musicians have to do. And that's the kind of genius that a person like Thelonious had." - Larry Ridley

Diana Krall Quotes

"I spent a lot of time playing in miserable places that were not a lot of fun. Somebody once said it is character building and I was like 'My character is just fine." - Diana Krall

Kenny G Quotes

"I don't mind being the butt of a joke-if it's a funny joke." - Kenny G

Melvin Maddocks Quotes

"Giving jazz the Congressional seal of approval is a little like making Huck Finn an honorary Boy Scout." - Melvin Maddocks

Carmen McRae Quotes

"Blues is to jazz what yeast is to bread - without it, it's flat." - Carmen McCrae

Woody Herman Quotes

"Are big bands coming back? Sure, every football season." - Woody Herman

Benny Green Quotes

"The first jazz pianist I heard was Thelonious Monk. My father was listening to an album of his called 'Monk's Dream' almost every day from the time I was born." - Benny Green

Stanley Crouch Quotes

"Above all else, [Benny Goodman] was a great player, one of the greatest American music has produced. He brought his absolute talent and his invincible love of music to the fore every time he played. There are many other things connected to society and ethnicity that are often mentioned in a discussion of Benny Goodman but all of them are connected to his overwhelming affection for the art of the music and the fairness it should be allowed to express." - Stanley Crouch, jazz historian/critic.

Jimmy Maxwell Quotes

"He was totally in command of everything. He was always a heavy practicer. Practiced all the time. He had ideas on how everything should be done in the band – bass, everything. Nobody argued with him, everybody had great respect for him." - Jimmy Maxwell

Mel Powell Quotes

"[Benny] Goodman was one of the most incredible players the field has ever known. It wasn't just that his own improvisation was marvelous, the spirit, the verve, the vitality, even humor he played with, but the sheer technical mastery. He played that thing like it was a yo-yo. The only thing comparable from a technical point of view would be [Art] Tatum." - Mel Powell

Marian Seldes Quotes

"I had never heard anyone play like Benny Goodman and had never seen anyone like him on the stage. I realize now that what impressed me and stayed with me in memory was – the sounds he made. He played so purely. The music seemed to come from him, not just the instrument he played with such mastery." - Marian Seldes

Artie Shaw Quotes

"Listening to Benny [Goodman] talk about the clarinet was like listening to a surgeon get hung up on a scalpel." - Artie Shaw

Robert J. O’Meally Quotes

"From his earliest small group recordings through his big bands of the swing era – of which he surely was a king – and on until the end of his days, Benny Goodman was a master of the clarinet and a bandleader admired by musicians and non-musicians alike, across all musical categories and across the globe. His quicksilver tone, his insistent drive to swing the music, his ability to execute cleanly the most dramatic filigrees of passages – all these qualities made him one of the most imitated instrumentalists in the world. Equally important to his legacy is his courage in proclaiming that music is a universal language transcending race and nation. Both as musical units and as experiments in democracy, his integrated bands comprised magnificent gestures toward perfection in our time." - Robert J. O’Meally, Director of Jazz Studies, Columbia University, NYC

Staten Island Sunday Advance Quotes

"Only Stokowski and Iturbi made as many Hollywood films as Benny Goodman, and his touring and recordings have made him the greatest living jazz legend throughout the world. His name is an ‘open sesame’ everywhere he goes." - Staten Island Sunday Advance (March, 1981)

Georgie Auld Quotes

"Working for Benny [Goodman] was like being in a school of music. His discipline, knowledge and ability were great determining factors in my musical life." - Georgie Auld

Harry James Quotes

"Benny [Goodman] used to practice 15 times more than the whole band combined." - Harry James

John F. Kennedy Quotes

"Benny Goodman is our 'International Ambassador With Clarinet.'" - John F. Kennedy (Russia, 1962)

John McDonough Quotes

"[Benny Goodman] remains one of the great contributors to music ... people are fortunate to be able to enjoy this outstandingly talented man." - John McDonough (in Coda, a Canadian jazz publication, 1974)

Whitney Balliett Quotes

"The brilliant explosion known as Benny Goodman went off in 1935, and it hasn´t gone out yet." - Whitney Balliett (New Yorker Magazine, 1977)

Stephane Grappelli Quotes

"[Billy Strayhorn] understood the violin as well as he understood Jazz, and he wrote for the violin as a violin." - Stephane Grappelli

Peoples Music Press Quotes

"The rhythm of Jazz is against the normal psychological needs of man." - The Peoples Music Press (Peking, China)

Dee Dee Bridgewater Quotes

"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

Herbie Mann Quotes

If you're in Jazz and more than ten people like you, you're labeled commercial.

Billie Holiday Quotes

"You can be up to your boobies in white satin, with gardenias in your hair and no sugar cane for miles, but you can still be working on a plantation." - Billie Holiday

Louis Armstrong Quotes

"The people are waiting for me. I got to do it, Doc, I got to do it." - Louis Armstrong (sick, 1971, speaking to his doctor, regarding a show at the Waldorf-Astoria)

Eddie Condon Quotes

"[Louis Armstrong] could play a trumpet like nobody else, then put it down and sing a song like no one else could." - Eddie Condon

Dizzy Gillespie Quotes

"Louis is not dead, for his music is and will remain in the hearts and minds of countless millions of the world's peoples, and in the playing of hundreds of thousands of musicians who have come under his influence." - Dizzy Gillespie

Richard Nixon Quotes

"Mrs. Nixon and I share the sorrow of millions of Americans at the death of Louis Armstrong. One of the architects of an American art form, a free and individual spirit, and an artist of worldwide fame, his great talents and magnificent spirit added richness and pleasure to all our lives." - Richard Nixon

Donald Bogle Quotes

"[Louis Armstrong's film] appearances are distinguished by superb musicianship and killer energy, which when fused with his unwavering commitment to his work and one-of-a-kind enthusiasm, endow him with an almost mythic power and resonance. Love him or hate, he is unfailingly mesmerizing." - Donald Bogle

Leonard Feather Quotes

"Americans, unknowingly, live part of every day in the house that Satch built." - Leonard Feather, critic.

Bobby Hackett Quotes

"Louis Armstrong could only happen once - for ever and ever. I, for one, appreciate the ride." - Bobby Hackett

Art Hodes Quotes

"Jazz is not - never has been - a one man show. But if I had to vote for one representative for jazz, that one would have to be Louis Armstrong." - Art Hodes

Al Hirt Quotes

"In my opinion, Louis Armstrong is the greatest trumpet stylist of all time and has influenced every trumpet player of his time and long after." - Al Hirt

Freddie Hubbard Quotes

"You don't realize at first when you listen to Armstrong's records how great this man was and how hard that Hot Five music was to play. After the experience of reading and playing those parts, I have an even greater respect for Louis Armstrong than before." - Freddie Hubbard

Duke Ellington Quotes

"If anybody was Mr. Jazz it was Louis Armstrong. He was the epitome of jazz and always will be. He is what I call an American standard, an American original." - Duke Ellington

Dan Morgenstern Quotes

"[Armstrong was] the key creator of the mature working language of jazz. Three decades after his death and more than three-quarters of a century since his influence first began to spread, not a single musician who has mastered that language fails to make daily use, knowingly or unknowingly, of something that was invented by Louis Armstrong." - Dan Morgenstern

Nicholas Payton Quotes

"[Louis Armstrong is] the father of us all, regardless of style or how modern we get. His influence is inescapable. Some of the things he was doing in the 20's and 30's, people still haven't dealt with." - Nicholas Payton

Hugh Masekela Quotes

"I think that anybody from the 20th century, up to now, has to be aware that if it wasn't for Louis Armstrong, we'd all be wearing powdered wigs. I think that Louis Armstrong loosened the world, helped people to be able to say "Yeah," and to walk with a little dip in their hip. Before Louis Armstrong, the world was definitely square, just like Christopher Columbus thought." - Hugh Masekela

Stanley Crouch Quotes

"Pops. Sweet Papa Dip. Satchmo. He had perfect pitch and perfect rhythm. His improvised melodies and singing could be as lofty as a moon flight or as low-down as the blood drops of a street thug dying in the gutter. Like most of the great innovators in jazz, he was a small man. But the extent of his influence across jazz, across American music and around the world has such continuing stature that he is one of the few who can easily be mentioned with Stravinsky, Picasso and Joyce. His life was the embodiment of one who moves from rags to riches, from anonymity to internationally imitated innovator. Louis Daniel Armstrong supplied revolutionary language that took on such pervasiveness that it became commonplace, like the light bulb, the airplane, the telephone." - Stanley Crouch

Mahalia Jackson Quotes

"If you don't like Louis Armstrong, you don't know how to love." - Mahalia Jackson

Bing Crosby Quotes

"I'm proud to acknowledge my debt to the 'Reverend Satchelmouth'. [Louis Armstrong] is the beginning and the end of music in America." - Bing Crosby

Tony Bennett Quotes

"It's America's classical music ... this becomes our tradition ... the bottom line of any country in the world is what did we contribute to the world? ... we contributed Louis Armstrong." - Tony Bennett

Leonard Bernstein Quotes

"What [Louis Armstrong] does is real, and true, and honest, and simple, and even noble. Every time this man puts his trumpet to his lips, even if only to practice three notes, he does it with his whole soul." - Leonard Bernstein, orchestra conductor.

Danny Barker Quotes

"Louis played the Regal Theater in Chicago,and they had this fantastic trumpeter Reuben Reeves in the pit. So in the overture they put Reuben Reeves on stage doing some of Louis's tunes. Louis listened - then when he came on he said, "Tiger Rag". Played about thirty choruses! The next show? No overture!" - Danny Barker

Teddy Wilson Quotes

"I think Louis is the greatest jazz musician that's ever been. He had a combination of all the factors that makes a good musician. He had balance... this most of all. Tone. Harmonic sense. Excitement. Technical skill. Originality. Every musician, no matter how good usually has something out of balance, be it tone, too much imitativeness, or whatever. But in Armstrong everything was in balance. He had no weak point. I don't think there has been a musician since Armstrong who has had all the factors in balance, all the factors equally developed... Lyricism. Delicacy. Emotional outburst. Rhythm. Complete mastery of his horn." - Teddy Wilson

Ellis Marsalis Quotes

"Louis Armstrong is the master of the jazz solo. He became the beacon, the light in the tower, that helped the rest of us navigate the tricky waters of jazz improvisation." - Ellis Marsalis

Jack Teagarden Quotes

"In the small hours, a friend and I were wandering around the French quarter, when suddenly I heard a trumpet in the distance. I couldn't see anything but an excursion boat gliding through the mist back to port. Then the tune became more distinct. The boat was still far off. But in the bow I could see a Negro standing in the wind, holding a trumpet high and sending out the most brilliant notes I had ever heard. It was jazz. It was what I had been hoping to hear all through the night. I don't even know whether it was 'Tiger Rag' or 'Panama'. But it was Louis Armstrong descending from the sky like a god. the ship hugged the bank as if it were driven there by the powerful trumpet beats. I stayed absolutely still, just listening, until the boat dropped anchor." - Jack Teagarden (remembering his 1921 visit to New Orleans)

Steve Reid Quotes

"Now everything has a very clinical, digital drum sound. You don't hear overtones or anything like that. It needs to be opened up. There's not too many guys left: Blakey, Elvin... everybody with a raw sound has gone now. Almost." - Steve Reid

Steve Reid Quotes

"Today's music is driven by the rhythms. That's the key. There are going to be no more Coltranes or Hendrixes: all this shit on the top has been played already! Now it's about mixing the whole thing up with the rhythms. It's not an intellectual thing anymore. It's a feeling." - Steve Reid

Featured Links

Buddy Rich Official Site

Miles Davis Online

Buddy Rich Quotes

Featured Link:
Buddy Rich Official Site

"You only get better by playing." - Buddy Rich

"Well, I never really practiced because I never had the opportunity to practice." - Buddy Rich

"To have everything written for you... It's not really creating. That's why I think symphony drummers are so limited. They're limited to exactly what was played a hundred years before them by a thousand other drummers." - Buddy Rich

"They're simply following what was laid down in front and they play the same thing. So, there's no great challenge in being a classical drummer." - Buddy Rich

"There were so many individual styles thirty or forty years ago." - Buddy Rich

"So, to come in with a set routine it's something I've never believed in. It should depend on how you feel, because you play what you feel." - Buddy Rich

"So, practice, particularly after you've attained a job, any kind of job, like playing with a four piece band, that's... an opportunity to develop." - Buddy Rich

"It takes us about four or five days to get an album out." - Buddy Rich

"I think the drummer should sit back there and play some drums, and never mind about the tunes. Just get up there and wail behind whoever is sitting up there playing the solo. And this is what is lacking, definitely lacking in music today." - Buddy Rich

"I think it's a fallacy that the harder you practice the better you get." - Buddy Rich

"I think at one time every drummer wanted to play like Krupa or wanted to win a Gene Krupa drum contest. This is the big inspiration for drummers and naturally it has to be the same way for me." - Buddy Rich

"I play a percussion instrument, not a musical saw; it needs no amplification. Where it's needed, they put a microphone in front of the bass drum. But, I don't think it's necessary to play that way every night." - Buddy Rich

"I mean, I think I liked every band I ever played in because each band was different, each band had a different concept, and each band leader was different... different personalities and musical tastes." - Buddy Rich

"If he's a true symphony artist, he knows better than that because he knows that the only truly creative musician is the jazz musician." - Buddy Rich

"I consider every drummer that ever played before me an influence, in every way." - Buddy Rich

"I can't sit down long enough to absorb any kind of learning." - Buddy Rich

"I can think of a lot better things to do with my hands than to cut them up on the rim of a drum." - Buddy Rich

"Every drummer that had a name, had a name because of his individual playing. He didn't sound like anybody else, So everybody that I ever listened to, in some form, influenced my taste." - Buddy Rich

"But, when you have to resort to turntables, trick lights, flashing lights, fire and all that, you're actually saying, I need this because what I do is not all that together." - Buddy Rich

"But primarily, the drummer's supposed to sit back there and swing the band." - Buddy Rich

"But I think that any young drummer starting out today should get himself a great teacher and learn all there is to know about the instrument that he wants to play." - Buddy Rich

"But, I don't think any arranger should ever write a drum part for a drummer because if a drummer can't create his own interpretation of the chart and he plays everything that's written, he becomes mechanical; he has no freedom." - Buddy Rich

"As far as music school goes. I walked through Berkeley one time to visit with some people I know." - Buddy Rich

"And, you know, I think the original recording of Ravel's Bolero, probably whoever played percussion on that, will never have it played better than that." - Buddy Rich

"And, well of course, Count Basie, and I think all of the black bands of the late thirties and early forties, bands with real players. They had an influence on everybody, not just drummers." - Buddy Rich

"Almost everything I've done, I've done through my own creativity. I don't think I ever had to listen to anyone else to learn how to play drums. I wish I could say that for about ten thousand other drummers." - Buddy Rich

Featured Links

Wynton Marsalis & Willie Nelson Play the Music of Ray Charles DVD

Ronald Jenkees Quotes

"I like jamming to weird stuff, but ya'll probably know that already." - Ronald Jenkees

Zoot Sims Quotes

"As long as you've got your horn in your mouth, you're developing." - Zoot Sims

Wynton Marsalis Quotes

"Because of (early Jazz writers) lack of understanding of the mechanics of music, they thought there weren't any mechanics. It was the "they all can sing, they all have rhythm" syndrome. If that was the case, why was there only one Louis Armstrong?" - Wynton Marsalis

Wynton Marsalis Quotes

"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

Wynton Marsalis Quotes

"How great musicians demonstrate a mutual respect and trust on the bandstand can alter your outlook on the world and enrich every aspect of your life, understanding what it means to be a global citizen in the most modern sense." - Wynton Marsalis

Woody Shaw Quotes

"The trouble with this country is that everything is new. We don't have any consideration for the past... Just because something is old, you don't just rip it down. You can renovate it instead of ripping it down and building something new." - Woody Shaw

Wes Montgomery Quotes

"Regardless of what you play, the biggest thing is keeping the feel going." - Wes Montgomery

Tony Bennett Quotes

"I think one of the reasons I'm popular again is because I'm wearing a tie. You have to be different." - Tony Bennett Quotes

Tommy Smith Quotes

"The saxophone's sonic possibilities are limitless, like an aural kaleidoscope. Its sound inspires sensuality but it but can rock out and scream with anger and frustration." - Tommy Smith

Tommy Smith Quotes

"Tomorrow you'll wish you had practiced harder today." - Tommy Smith

Tommy Smith Quotes

"The golden curves and gorgeous sound of the saxophone have blown throughout the world like a beautiful breeze, inspiring many to study its charms." - Tommy Smith

Tommy Smith Quotes

"Your horn is your passport to the world." - Tommy Smith

Thelonious Monk Quotes

"Man, that cat is nuts!" - Thelonius Monk (on Ornette Coleman)

Thelonious Monk Quotes

"Talking about music is like dancing about architecture." - Thelonious Monk

Sun Ra Quotes

"Where human eyes have never seen, where human beings have never been, I build a world of abstract dreams, and I wait for you." - Sun Ra

Sun Ra Quotes

"The world thinks that music is a commercial commodity. I'm glad that is not my code." - Sun Ra

Stan Kenton Quotes

"When you get to the top, don't forget to send the elevator down for the next guy." - Stan Kenton

Stan Kenton Quotes

"Nostalgia ain't what it used to be." - Stan Kenton

Stan Getz Quotes

"A good quartet is like a good conversation among friends interacting to each other's ideas." - Stan Getz

Stan Getz Quotes

"The value of Jazz still has to be clarified. People involve themselves with its superficialities without digging for its soul." - Stan Getz

Sonny Rollins Quotes

"Even if you have some brilliant jazz ideas, it's going to be difficult to get them across unless you have (a) a distinctive sound or (b) a loud sound. These are musts." - Sonny Rollins

Sonny Rollins Quotes

"No one is original. Everyone is derivative." - Sonny Rollins

Sonny Rollins Quotes

"One very important thing I learned from Monk was his complete dedication to music. That was his reason for being alive. Nothing else mattered except music, really." - Sonny Rollins

Sonny Rollins Quotes

"I'm fortunate that I'm making a living at it now because I'm not equipped to do anything else." - Sonny Rollins

Sonny Rollins Quotes

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

Sonny Rollins Quotes

"I simply want to reach a level where I will never cease to make progress...so that, even on the bad evenings, I may never be bad enough to despair." - Sonny Rollins

Sonny Criss Quotes

"I don't separate one era of jazz from another, because I listen to everybody. Everybody takes from everybody else and adds their own thing and goes on from there." - Sonny Criss

Shorty Rogers Quotes

"When Bird came on the scene, it was just as shocking as in the Bible: everything was dark, and then the light appeared for the first time." - Shorty Rogers

Ronnie Scott Quotes

"Wes Montgomery played impossible things on the guitar because it was never pointed out to him that they were impossible." - Ronnie Scott

Quincy Jones Quotes

"Hell, nobody knows where Jazz is going to go. There may be a kid right now in Chitlin Switch, Georgia, who is going to come along and upset everybody." - Quincy Jones

Placido Domingo Quotes

"The high note is not the only thing." - Placido Domingo

Peter Gordon Quotes

"The problem with jazz is that it is hidden in plain sight." - Peter Gordon, Thirsty Ear Records.

Paul Desmond Quotes

"The qualities in music which I considered most important -- and still do -- were beauty, simplicity, originality, discrimination, and sincerity." - Paul Desmond

Pat Metheny Quotes

"To me, if it's anything, Jazz is a verb - it's more like a process than it is a thing." - Pat Metheny

Pat Martino Quotes

"Jazz is the continual pulsation of the now." - Pat Martino

Ornette Coleman Quotes

"It's the hidden things, the subconscious that lies in the body and lets you know: you feel this, you play this." - Ornette Coleman

Ornette Coleman Quotes

"The idea is more important than the style or the contents of the style you're trying to play in." - Ornette Coleman

Nat Adderley Quotes

"I never heard of a jazz musician who retired. You love what you do, so what are you going to do? Play for the walls?" - Nat Adderley

Miles Davis Quotes

"I can tell whether a person can play just by the way he stands." - Miles Davis

Miles Davis Quotes

"Music is an addiction." - Miles Davis

Miles Davis Quotes

"You have to be born with it. You can't even buy it. If you could buy it, they'd have it at the next Newport Festival." - Miles Davis

Mel Torme Quotes

"Oh, jazz and love are the hardest things to describe from rationale." - Mel Torme

Max Roach Quotes

"Monk encouraged me to emancipate the drums from their subservient role as timekeepers." - Max Roach

Mary Lou Williams Quotes

"I wonder what an agent would do if he had to travel with the band he's booking." - Mary Lou Williams

Ludwin Von Beethoven Quotes

"Beethoven can write music, thank God, but he can do nothing else on earth." - Ludwin Von Beethoven

Les Paul Quotes

"As a guitarist Charlie [Parker] was simply the best around...he had a way of getting on one note and driving it right into the ground." - Les Paul

Lennie Tristano Quotes

"The hippest thing you can do is not play at all. Just listen." - Lennie Tristano

Lee Morgan Quotes

"There are no natural barriers. It's all music. It's either hip or it ain't." - Lee Morgan

Kurt Elling Quotes

"[Jazz singing] is like pornography. You can't say what it is, but you know it when you see it." — Kurt Elling

Joshua Redman Quotes

"If everyone liked what I did, I probably wouldn't be playing anything of depth." - Joshua Redman

Josephine Baker Quotes

"Each time I leaped I seemed to touch the sky and when I regained earth it seemed to be mine alone." - Josephine Baker

Jon Hendricks Quotes

"Jazz is an art form that depends on its antecedents, there must be respect for the people that have gone before." - Jon Hendricks

John Megegan Quotes

"Silence also swings." - John Mehegan

John Lewis Quotes

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

John Coltrane Quotes

"Sometimes I wish I could walk up to my music as if for the first time, as if I had never heard it before. Being so inescapably a part of it, I'll never know what the listener gets, what the listener feels, and that's too bad." - John Coltrane

John Coltrane Quotes

"I start in the middle of a sentence and move both directions at once." - John Coltrane

Joe Venuti Quotes

"If you're going to make a mistake, make it loud so everybody else sounds wrong." - Joe Venuti

Jo Jones Quotes

"The hardest thing for a musician to learn is how to play WITH people. That's what made the Basie rhythm section." - Jo Jones

Jimi Hendrix Quotes

"Music is my religion." - Jimi Hendrix

James Brown Quotes

"At heart I've always been a jazz man." - James Brown

Jaco Pastorius Quotes

"I'm not here to raise hippie consciousness, I'm here to wet some panties." - Jaco Pastorius

Horace Silver Quotes

"We all have to open our minds, stretch forth, take chances and venture out musically to try and arrive at something new and different." - Horace Silver

Hoagy Charmichael Quotes

"Traveling with a big band is like being an inmate in a traveling zoo." - Hoagy Charmichael

Hans Christian Anderson Quotes

"Where words fail, music speaks." - Hans Christian Anderson

Gerry Mulligan Quotes

"Life on the road is murder. It's as though life begins and ends when you have your horn in your mouth." - Gerry Mulligan

Gerald Early Quotes

"I think there are only three things that America will be known for 2,000 years from now when they study this civilization: the Constitution, jazz music and baseball. They're the three most beautifully designed things this culture has ever produced." - Gerald Early, Historian.

George Shearing Quotes

"When people ask me how is it I was a musician, I facetiously say that I'm a firm believer in reincarnation and in a previous life I was Johann Sebastian Bach's guide dog." - George Shearing

George Russell Quotes

"I don't just write music to esthetically satisfy somebody. The reason I write music is that I feel it's a vehicle or channel which leads to your true self, your essence." - George Russell

George Russell Quotes

"If America has a future, Jazz has a future. The two are inseparable." - George Russell

George Carlin Quotes

"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 (regarding jam sessions)

Gary Bartz Quotes

"Music is my religion. Music is the only thing that has never failed me. People let you down, music won't." — Gary Bartz

Elvin Jones Quotes

"I feel very, very gratified when people are complimentary to what I have done or appreciated it with sincerity... It makes me feel that maybe I did do something that was proper and that was right." - Elvin Jones

Elena Gillespie Quotes

"That within you that draws breath is where the music is." - Elena Gillespie

Eddie Condon Quotes

"As it enters the ear, does it come in like broken glass, or does it come in like honey?" - Eddie Condon

Ed Thigpen Quotes

"Musicians should never forget that we're blessed. We have a special gift that people can enjoy through us. We've had the good fortune to receive this and pass it along to others." - Ed Thigpen

Earl Hines Quotes

"You may have holes in your shoes, but don't let the people out front know it. Shine the tops." - Earl Hines

Duke Ellington Quotes

"Retire to what?" - Duke Ellington

Duke Ellington Quotes

"It is becoming increasingly difficult to decide where jazz starts or where it stops, where Tin Pan Alley begins and jazz ends, or even where the borderline lies between between classical music and jazz. I feel there is no boundary line." - Duke Ellington

Duke Ellington Quotes

"Roaming through the jungle of "Ohs" and "Ahs" searching for a more agreeable noise, I live a life of primitivity with the mind of a child and an unquenchable thirst for sharps and flats." - Duke Ellington

Duke Ellington Quotes

"Music, of course, is what I hear and something that I more or less live by. It's not an occupation or profession, it's a compulsion." - Duke Ellington

Buddy Rich Quotes

"Well, I never really practiced because I never had the opportunity to practice." - Buddy Rich

Buddy Rich Quotes

"You only get better by playing." - Buddy Rich

Cornel West Quotes

"Music is what we need when language fails us, but we cannot remain silent." - Cornel West

Don Ferrara Quotes

"Every note Roy [Eldridge] played had meaning and life... his feelings pushed the valves down, not his fingers." - Don Ferrara

Don Cherry Quotes

"The day I met Ornette [Coleman], it was about 90 degrees and he had on an overcoat. I was scared of him." - Don Cherry

Don Cherry Quotes

"When people believe in boundaries, they become part of them." - Don Cherry

Dexter Gordon Quotes

"I hope we left you with something to put under your pillows." - Dexter Gordon

Decca Records Quotes

"We don't like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out." - Decca Records (in response to The Beatles, 1962)

Dave Brubeck Quotes

"Damn it, when I'm bombastic, I have my reasons. I want to be bombastic - take it or leave it." - Dave Brubeck

Clark Terry Quotes

"Imitate, assimilate, and innovate." - Clark Terry

Charlie Parker Quotes

"I'm very glad to have met you. I like your playing very much." - Charlie Parker (to Jean-Paul Sartre)

Charlie Parker Quotes

"I am a devout musician." - Charlie Parker

Charlie Haden Quotes

"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

Charles Mingus Quotes

"Thelonius Monk went over to Bird and Bud Powell and said, 'I told you guys to act crazy, but I didn't tell you to fall in love with the act. You're really crazy now.'" - Charles Mingus

Carla Bley Quotes

"What's interesting about a person without problems?" - Carla Bley

Cannonball Adderley Quotes

"Hipness is not a state of mind, It's a fact of life!" - Cannonball Adderley

Booker Little Quotes

"My own feelings about the direction in which jazz should go are that there should be much less stress on technical exhibitionism and much more on emotional content, on what might be termed humanity in music and the freedom to say all that you want." - Booker Little

Billy Taylor Quotes

"The thing that is making jazz healthy today is that people are coming out of other backgrounds - from rock, folk, from ethnic music. It's changing the music, and for the better." - Billy Taylor

Billy Martin Quotes

"There is Jazz in our [Medeski, Martin & Wood's] music but there is a Funk element too. People have labeled us organic acid Jazz but we aren't too keen on that. I prefer Sanford and Sun Ra!" - Billy Martin

Bill Evans Quotes

"Talent is cheap, and many talents treat themselves cheaply." - Bill Evans

Benny Green Quotes

"Anyone can learn what Louis Armstrong knows about music in a few weeks. Nobody could learn to play like him in a thousand years." - Benny Green

Ben Sidran Quotes

"If Charlie Parker were alive today, somebody would try to cut a disco single with and try and get him to sell three million." - Ben Sidran

Bart Simpson Quotes

"Ahhh... cartoons. America's only native art form. I don't count Jazz because it sucks." - Bart Simpson

Aldous Huxley Quotes

"After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible, is music." - Aldous Huxley

Allan Jaffe Quotes

"New Orleans is the only place I know of where you ask a little kid what he wants to be and instead of saying 'I want to be a policeman,' or 'I want to be a fireman,' he says, 'I want to be a musician.'" — Allan Jaffe

Ahmad Alaadeen Quotes

"Jazz does not belong to one race or culture, but is a gift that America has given the world." - Ahmad Alaadeen

African Proverbs

"A master drummer must have seven eyes." - African Proverb

Cecil Taylor Quotes

"Improvisation is the ability to talk to oneself." - Cecil Taylor

Wynton Marsalis Quotes

"Sustained intensity equals ecstacy." - Wynton Marsalis

Wynton Marsalis Quotes

"But you listen to Coltrane and that's something human, something that's about elevation. It's like making love to a woman. It's about something of value, it's not just loud. It doesn't have that violent connotation to it. I wanted to be a jazz musician so bad, but I really couldn't. There was no way I could figure out to learn how to play." - Wynton Marsalis

Wynton Marsalis Quotes

"Trumpet players are just belligerant, and cocky, and you know, just hard-headed." - Wynton Marsalis

Wynton Marsalis Quotes

"Some stances are just conducive to swinging. If I stand up straight for too long it's harder to swing. Plus my feet hurt." - Wynton Marsalis

Woody Herman Quotes

"Some guys dig ditches, I have a band. It's what I do." - Woody Herman

Wes Montgomery Quotes

"I never practice my guitar... from time to time I just open the case and throw in a piece of raw meat." - Wes Montgomery

Wayne Shorter Quotes

"A series of vibrations. What does it matter, the source of the catalyst?" - Wayne Shorter

Wayne Shorter Quotes

"I always think of music as interior decoration. So, if you have all kinds of music, you are fully decorated!" - Wayne Shorter

Tom Harrell Quotes

"I try to listen attentively to musical sounds around me. You can think of the sounds of daily life as being musical. So I try to absorb the intricacies of the sounds as I would if I were listening to a piece of music. I try to see the beauty in everything." - Tom Harrell

Thelonious Monk Quotes

"I'm famous. Ain't that a bitch?" - Thelonious Monk

Thelonious Monk Quotes

"At this time the fashion is to bring something to jazz that I reject. They speak of freedom. But one has no right, under pretext of freeing yourself, to be illogical and incoherent by getting rid of structure and simply piling a lot of notes one on top of the other. There's no beat anymore. You can't keep time with your foot. I believe that what is happening to jazz with people like Ornette Coleman, for instance, is bad. There's a new idea that consists in destroying everything and find what's shocking and unexpected; whereas jazz must first of all tell a story that anyone can understand." - Thelonious Monk

Thelonious Monk Quotes

"I don't conside myself a musician who has achieved perfection and can't develop any further. But I compose my pieces with a formula that I created myself. Take a musician like John Coltrane. He is a perfect musician, who can give expression to all the possibilities of his instrument. But he seems to have difficulty expressing original ideas on it. That is why he keeps looking for ideas in exotic places. At least I don't have that problem, because, like I say, I find my inspiration in myself." - Thelonious Monk

Thelonious Monk Quotes

"I like to sleep. There is no set time of day for sleep. You sleep when you're tired, that's all there is to it." - Thelonious Monk

Thelonious Monk Quotes

"Those who want to know what sound goes into my music should come to NY and open their ears." - Thelonious Monk

Thelonious Monk Quotes

"Where's jazz going? I don't know? Maybe it's going to hell. You can't make anything go anywhere. It just happens." - Thelonious Monk

Thelonious Monk Quotes

"Miles'd got killed if he hit me." - Thelonious Monk

Thelonious Monk Quotes

"Wrong is right." - Thelonious Monk

Teddy Wilson Quotes

"I don't want to sound immodest, but what musicians like myself play is Ph.D. music compared to the nursery-school sounds of a lot of rock and roll. They've got to grow out of it. You can only maintain that stance so long - unless, in musical terms, you're retarded." - Teddy Wilson

Sun Ra Quotes

"So rise lightly from the earth and try your wings. Try them now while the darkness is invisible." - Sun Ra

Steve Lacy Quotes

"In fifteen seconds the difference between composition and improvisation is that in composition you have all the time you want to decide what to say in fifteen seconds, while in improvisation you have fifteen seconds." - Steve Lacy

Steve Lacy Quotes

"A jazz musician is a combination orator, dialectician, mathematician, athlete, entertainer, poet, singer, dancer, diplomat, educator, student, comedian, artist, seducer, public masturbator, and general all-round good fellow." - Steve Lacy

Steve Lacy Quotes

"Let's call it spirit, because to me, there is spirit in a reed. It's a living thing, a reed, really, and it does contain spirit of a sort. And they say these areas make sound when the wind comes. It's really an ancient vibration." - Steve Lacy

Steve Coleman Quotes

"I often wonder... what did Coltrane think of James Brown?" - Steve Coleman

Sonny Rollins Quotes

"...this is my dilemma. I'm a guy who makes things up as I go along, so nothing is ever finished - there are so many layers. So when you solo, yeah, you might get into one thing, but then, hey, everything has implications! You can hear the next level. And that's how I feel about improvising - there's always another level." - Sonny Rollins

Roland Kirk Quotes

"When I die, I want them to play the BLACK AND CRAZY BLUES, I want to be cremated, put in a bag of pot and I want beautiful people to smoke me and hope they got something out of it." - Roland Kirk

Roland Kirk Quotes

"I wish we could just stay on the bandstand, it's so peaceful up here." - Roland Kirk

Roland Kirk Quotes

"So until we see you again, bright moments and keep searchin' for your mystery note on the universal piano of life." - Roland Kirk

Pepper Adams Quotes

"No baritone player should be afraid of the noise it makes. Harry Carney isn't!" - Pepper Adams

Pepper Adams Quotes

"I'm all in favor of getting grants for musicians. Or any other good brand of Scotch." - Pepper Adams

Paul Desmond Quotes

"I discovered early in life that if you take gym first period, you can go into the wrestling room and sit in the corner and sleep." - Paul Desmond

Paul Desmond Quotes

"Our basic audience begins with creaking elderly types of twenty-three and above." - Paul Desmond

Paul Desmond Quotes

"We're working as if it we're going out of style — which of course it is." - Paul Desmond

Paul Desmond Quotes

"I tried practicing for a few weeks and ended up playing too fast." - Paul Desmond

Paul Desmond Quotes

"I have won several prizes as the world’s slowest alto player, as well as a special award in 1961 for quietness." - Paul Desmond

Oscar Moore Quotes

"To me, playing guitar is like talking to a girl. You just kind of know how to do it." - Oscar Moore

Ornette Coleman Quotes

"We in the Western world suffer from too many categories and classes; we've forgotten that we all still have diapers on. We've separated music from life." - Ornette Coleman

Ornette Coleman Quotes

"Musicians tell me, if what I'm doing is right, they should never have gone to school." - Ornette Coleman

Miles Davis Quotes

"Jazz is the big brother of Revolution. Revolution follows it around." - Miles Davis

Miles Davis Quotes

"At least one day out of the year all musicans should just put their instruments down, and give thanks too Duke Ellington." - Miles Davis

Miles Davis Quotes

"Coltrane, you cant play everything at once!" - Miles Davis

Miles Davis Quotes

"You know why I quit playing ballads? Cause I love playing ballads." - Miles Davis

Miles Davis Quotes

"If you got up on the bandstand at Minton's and couldn't play, you were not only going to be embarrassed by the people ignoring you or booing you, you might get your ass kicked." - Miles Davis

Miles Davis Quotes

"I really liked Wynton [Marsalis] when I first met him. He's still a nice young man, only confused." - Miles Davis

Miles Davis Quotes

"I never thought that the music called 'Jazz' was ever meant to reach just a small group of people, or become a museum thing locked under glass like all the other dead things that were once considered artistic." - Miles Davis

Miles Davis Quotes

"In Europe, they like everything you do. The mistakes and everything. That's a little bit too much." - Miles Davis

Miles Davis Quotes

"Keith [Jarrett] played so nice I had to give him two pianos. I'd say 'Keith, how does it feel to be a genius?'" - Miles Davis

Miles Davis Quotes

"Those songs to me don't exist, you know? 'So What' or 'Kind of Blue', I'm not going to play that shit, those things are there. They were done in that era, the right hour, the right day, and it happened. It's over; it's on the record." - Miles Davis

Miles Davis Quotes

"I don't care if a dude is purple with green breath as long as he can swing." - Miles Davis

Miles Davis Quotes

"Monk was a gentle person, gentle and beautiful, but he was strong as an ox. And if I had ever said something about punching Monk out in front of his face - and I never did - then somebody should have just come and got me and taken me to the madhouse, because Monk could have just picked my little ass up and thrown me through a wall." - Miles Davis

Miles Davis Quotes

"I don't like to hear someone put down Dixieland. Those people who say there's no music but Bop are just stupid; it shows how much they don't know." - Miles Davis

Miles Davis Quotes

"You can't play nothing on modern trumpet that doesn't come from him, not even modern shit. I can't even remember a time when he sounded bad playing the trumpet. Never. Not even one time. He had great feeling up in his playing and he always played on the beat. I just loved the way he played and sang." - Miles Davis (on Louis Armstrong)

Maceo Parker Quotes

"We like to do 2% Jazz, 98% funky stuff." - Maceo Parker

Louis Armstrong Quotes

"Hot can be cool, and cool can be hot, and each can be both. But hot or cool, man, jazz is jazz." - Louis Armstrong

Miles Davis Quotes

"If they act too hip, you know they can't play shit!" - Miles Davis

Louis Armstrong Quotes

"If I don't practice for a day, I know it. If I don't practice for two days, the critics know it. And if I don’t practice for three days, the public knows it." - Louis Armstrong

Louis Armstrong Quotes

"[Bebop is] Chinese music." - Louis Armstrong

Lester Young Quotes

"Originality's the thing. You can have tone and technique and a lot of other things but without originality you ain't really nowhere. Gotta be original." - Lester Young

Lester Young Quotes

"The trouble with most musicians today is that they are copycats. Of course you have to start out playing like someone else. You have a model, or a teacher, and you learn all that he can show you. But then you start playing for yourself. Show them that you're an individual. And I can count those who are doing that today on the fingers of one hand." - Lester Young

Kenny Garrett Quotes

"Rather than simply say, I play jazz, I say I play music." - Kenny Garrett

Keith Jarrett Quotes

"I cannot say what I think is right about music. I only know the rightness of it." - Keith Jarrett

Keith Jarrett Quotes

"Jazz is there and gone. It happens. You have to be present for it. That simple." - Keith Jarrett

Keith Jarrett Quotes

"I've never heard anything Wynton [Marsalis] played sound like it meant anything at all. Wynton has no voice and no presence. His music sounds like a talented high-school trumpet player to me... he's jazzy the same way someone who drives a BMW is sporty." - Keith Jarrett

Johnny Griffin Quotes

"Jazz is music made by and for people who have chosen to feel good in spite of conditions." - Johnny Griffin

John McNeil Quotes

"If a [trumpet] player is operating at the far frontiers of his or her ability, pushing the envelope so to speak, it seems to me that a certain amount of failure is inevitable. Maybe even desirable." - John McNeil

John Coltrane Quotes

"My music is the spiritual expression of what I am — my faith, my knowledge, my being … When you begin to see the possibilities of music, you desire to do something really good for people, to help humanity free itself from its hangups … I want to speak to their souls." - John Coltrane

John Coltrane Quotes

"Sometimes I'd think I was making music through the wrong end of a magnifying glass." - John Coltrane

Jay McShann Quotes

"They said Bird played bebop, but Bird could still swing. I've heard a lot of guys play bebop, but they wasn't swinging." - Jay McShann

Jaco Pastorius Quotes

"A chimpanzee could learn to do what I do physically. But it goes way beyond that. When you play, you play life." - Jaco Pastorius

Jaco Pastorius Quotes

"I'm not a star. I'll never be a Frank Sinatra or Elvis Presley or a Ray Charles. I'm just an imitator, man. I'm doing a very bad imitation on the bass of Jerry Jemmott, Bernard Odum, Jimmy Fielder, Jimmy Blanton, Igor Stravinsky, Jimi Hendrix, John Coltrane, James Brown, Charlie Parker... the cats, man. I'm just backing up the cats." - Jaco Pastorius

Jaco Pastorius Quotes

"Women and rhythm-section first!" - Jaco Pastorius

Jaco Pastorius Quotes

"It ain't braggin’ if you can back it up!" - Jaco Pastorius

Horace Silver Quotes

"Jazz is not background music. You must concentrate upon it in order to get the most of it. You must absorb most of it. The harmonies within the music can relax, soothe, relax, and uplift the mind when you concentrate upon and absorb it. Jazz music stimulates the minds and uplifts the souls of those who play it was well as of those who listen to immerse themselves in it. As the mind is stimulated and the soul uplifted, this is eventually reflected in the body." - Horace Silver

Herbie Hancock Quotes

"Life is not about finding our limitations, it’s about finding our infinity." - Herbie Hancock

Herbie Hancock Quotes

"A jazz musician is not a jazz musician when he or she is eating dinner or when he or she is with his parents or spouse or neighbors. He’s above all a human being - the true artform is being a human being." - Herbie Hancock

Herbie Hancock Quotes

"A great teacher is one who realizes that he himself is also a student and whose goal is not dictate the answers, but to stimulate his students creativity enough so that they go out and find the answers themselves." - Herbie Hancock

Gerry Mulligan Quotes

"What I came back to is that jazz is a music to be played and not to be intellectualized on."

Frank Zappa Quotes

"Jazz is not dead, it just smells funny." - Frank Zappa

Fats Waller Quotes

"This is so nice, it must be illegal." - Fats Waller

Fats Waller Quotes

"One never knows, do one?" - Fats Waller

Fats Waller Quotes

You get that right tickin' rhythm, man, and it's ON!" - Fats Waller

Eric Dolphy Quotes

"When you hear music, after it's over, it's gone, in the air, you can never capture it again." - Eric Dolphy

Elvin Jones Quotes

"You've got to want to die for the motherfucker!" - Elvin Jones (when asked how he and Coltrane's group managed to play together with such intensity.)

Elvin Jones Quotes

"If there's any such thing as a perfect man, I think John Coltrane was one. And I think that kind of perfection has to come from a greater force than there is here on earth." - Elvin Jones

Ellis Marsalis Quotes

"At a time when individualism is becoming an endangered species, jazz represents a celebration of the individual." - Ellis Marsalis

Featured Links

Ella Fitzgerald : A Twentieth-Century Life (Hardcover)

Ella Fitzgerald & Duke Ellington: The Last Jam Session DVD

Ella Fitzgerald Quotes

"I've had some wonderful love affairs and some that didn't work out. I don't want to dwell on that and I don't want to put people down, but I think all the fabulous places I've been, the wonderful things that have happened for me, the great people I've met - that ought to make a story." - Ella Fitzgerald

Ella Fitzgerald Quotes

"Just don’t give up trying to do what you really want to do. Where there is love and inspiration, I don't think you can go wrong." - Ella Fitzgerald

Ella Fitzgerald Quotes

"Once, when we were playing at the Apollo, [Billie] Holiday was working a block away at the Harlem Opera House. Some of us went over between shows to catch her, and afterwards we went backstage. I did something then, and I still don’t know if it was the right thing to do - I asked her for her autograph." - Ella Fitzgerald

Ella Fitzgerald Quotes

"I know I'm no glamour girl, and it's not easy for me to get up in front of a crowd of people. It used to bother me a lot, but now I've got it figured out that God gave me this talent to use, so I just stand there and sing." - Ella Fitzgerald

Ella Fitzgerald Quotes

"Forgive me if I don't have the words. Maybe I can sing it and you'll understand." - Ella Fitzgerald

Eddie Harris Quotes

"If you believe, you will. If you don't, you won't." - Eddie Harris

Eddie Harris Quotes

"Reimbursement may be sometimes small, but then great ability can never be measured by the tickets at the gate." - Eddie Harris

Eddie Condon Quotes

"This all came of a conversation I had with [John] Steinbeck once when we were standing in a men’s room somewhere. Steinbeck asked me why I didn’t play the banjo any more and I told him that went out with the high-button shoes." - Eddie Condon

Eddie Condon Quotes

"[Gene] Krupa's drums went through us like a triple bourbon." - Eddie Condon

Eddie Condon Quotes

"Paul Desmond sounds like a female alcoholic." - Eddie Condon

Eddie Condon Quotes

"[Dave] Brubeck, for instance, is not careless. He's a studied guy. And even if his picture ends up on the back cover of Life, he's still a studious guy.

Eddie Condon Quotes

"Ted Lewis could make the clarinet talk. What it said was 'Put me back in the case!'" - Eddie Condon

Eddie Condon Quotes

"Finally, Beiderbecke took out a silver cornet. He put it to his lips and blew a phrase. The sound came out like a girl saying 'Yes!'" - Eddie Condon

Eddie Condon Quotes

"The boppers flat their fifths. We consume ours." - Eddie Condon

Duke Ellington Quotes

"There is nothing to keeping a band together. You simply have too have a gimmick, and the gimmick I use is too pay them money!" - Duke Ellington

Duke Ellington Quotes

"I don't believe in categories of any kind, and when you speak of problems between blacks and whites in the U.S.A., you are referring to categories again." - Duke Ellington

Duke Ellington Quotes

"Love is indescribable and unconditional. I could tell you a thousand things that it is not, but not one that it is. Either you have it or you haven't; there’s no proof of it."

Duke Ellington Quotes

"Put it this way: Jazz is a good barometer of freedom... in its beginnings, the United States of America spawned certain ideals of freedom and independence through which, eventually, Jazz was evolved, and the music is so free that man people say it is the only unhampered, unhindered expression of complete freedom yet produced in this country." - Duke Ellington Quotes

Duke Ellington Quotes

"Music is my mistress and she plays second fiddle to no one." - Duke Ellington

Duke Ellington Quotes

"A goal is a dream with a finish line." - Duke Ellington

Duke Ellington Quotes

"I never had much interest in the piano until I realized that every time I played, a girl would appear on the piano bench to my left and another to my right."

Dizzy Gillespie Quotes

"Miles got a mysticque about him — plus he's at the top of his profession. And he's got way, way, way more money." - Dizzy Gillespie

Dave Kikoski Quotes

"For me, the main thing is spontaneity and taking chances. You have to study and know the traditions, but then you have to play things that haven't been played before. It becomes a balance of knowing the tradition and using your own original voice to add to it." - Dave Kikoski Quotes

Dave Kikoski Quotes

"The hardest thing about being a young musician on the jazz scene is that there are so many styles of music, jazz and otherwise, that you're exposed to. The challenge is to use all that in your own way, to personalize all that has come before you and all that is happening around you. To get the music the way you want it, there's a lot of work involved." - Dave Kikoski

Dave Liebman Quotes

"Art is constant tension and release. That is where artists live, between the two, or at times, submerged in either. The challenge is never ending perfection is impossible, it could always be different, better, or worse. It's not important, just process and striving to be like the man who walks the trapeze maintaining balance." - Dave Liebman

Clark Terry Quotes

"Well, I'm too old to pimp, and too young to die, so I'm just gon' keep playin’!" - Clark Terry

Chet Baker Quotes

"Well, if I could play like Wynton [Marsalis], I wouldn’t play like Wynton." - Chet Baker

Charlie Parker Quotes

"When I first heard music, I thought it should be very clean, very precise. Something that people could understand, something that was beautiful." - Charlie Parker

Charlie Barnet Quotes

"I like the girls to match the upholstery of the car." - Charlie Barnet

Charles Mingus Quotes

"Most customers, by the time the musicians reach the second set, are to some extent inebriated. They don’t care what you play anyway." - Charles Mingus

Charles Mingus Quotes

"Good jazz is when the leader jumps on the piano, waves his arms, and yells. Fine jazz is when a tenorman lifts his foot in the air. Great jazz is when he heaves a piercing note for 32 bars and collapses on his hands and knees. A pure genius of jazz is manifested when he and the rest of the orchestra runaround the room while the rhythm section grimaces and dances around their instruments." - Charles Mingus

Charles Mingus Quotes

"That sound in tune to you? Sounds sharp to me. Sounds like I'm playing sharp all the time. My singing teacher told us you should do that. Maybe I got it from her. She said singers when they grow old have a tendency to go flat. So if you sing sharp as a young person, as you get older and go flat, you'll be in tune. In other words, it's never thought good to be flat. It means you can't get to the tone." - Charles Mingus

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Charles Mingus Quotes

It [jazz] isn't like it used to be. The guys aren't together. They're all separated. Individuals now. Bird was a symbol. It was a clique, a clique of people. Who all believed in one thing: gettin' high. And playin'." - Charles Mingus

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