More Jazz Quotes

“It’s like a whole orchestra, the piano for me.”—Dave Brubeck

“Music is a verb.”—Ornette Coleman

“I can not play a lie. I have to believe in what I play or it won’t come out.”—Stan Getz

“I start in the middle of a sentence and move both directions at once.”—John Coltrane

“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

“Don’t play what’s there, play what’s not there.”—Miles Davis

“Jazz is not a what, it is a how.”—Bill Evans

Duke Ellington

“If it sounds good and feels good, then it IS good!”—Duke Ellington

“You’ve got to learn your instrument. Then, you practice, practice, practice. And then, when you finally get up there on the bandstand, forget all that and just wail.”—Charlie Parker

“Jazz is America’s classical music.”—Billy Taylor

“Jazz is there and gone. It happens. You have to be present for it. That simple.”—Keith Jarrett

“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

Sarah Vaughan

“There are notes between notes, you know.”—Sarah Vaughan

 

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Jazz Quotes

Here are some quotes from Jazz Masters. Be inspired by their wisdom and music!

“What is music to you? What would you be without music? Music is everything. Nature is music (cicadas in the tropical night). The sea is music, the wind is music. The rain drumming on the roof and the storm raging in the sky are music. Music is the oldest entity. The scope of music is immense and infinite. It is the ‘esperanto’ of the world.”—Duke Ellington

“Jazz to me is a living music. It’s a music that since its beginning has expressed the feelings, the dreams, hopes, of the people.”—Dexter Gordon 

Miles Davis

“I’ll play it and tell you what it is later”—Miles Davis

 “Musically, I love to talk just off the top of my head and that’s what jazz is all about.”—Stan Getz

 “At heart I’ve always been a jazz man.”— James Brown

“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

 “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

 “You can’t explain jazz to anyone without losing the experience because it’s feeling, not words.”—Bill Evans

 “I’ve found you’ve got to look back at the old things and see them in new light.” –John Coltrane

Thelonious Monk

“The piano ain’t got no wrong notes.” Thelonious Monk

 “The idea is more important than the style or the contents of the style you’re trying to play in.”—Ornette Coleman

 “One thing I like about jazz is that it emphasized doing things differently from what other people were doing.”—Herbie Hancock

“I always wanted to be a spontaneous composer.”—Charles Mingus

 “That’s the thing about jazz: it’s free flowing it comes from your soul.”—Billy Crystal

 

Jazz Quotes

Here are some quotes from Jazz Masters. Be inspired by their wisdom and music!

“Gray skies are just clouds passing over.”—Duke Ellington

 “One very important thing I learned from (Thelonious) Monk was his complete dedication to music. That was his reason for being alive. Nothing else mattered except music, really.”—Sonny Rollins

“Regardless of what you play the biggest thing is keeping the feel going.” —Wes Montgomery

“Jazz is the language of the emotions.”—Charles Mingus

 “Jazz is the big brother of the blues. If a guy’s playing blues like we play, he’s in high school. When he starts playing jazz it’s like going on to college, to a school of higher learning.”—B. B. King

 “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

 I think the main thing a musician would like to do is give a picture to the listener of the many wonderful things that he knows of and senses in the universe.”  − John Coltrane

“The only thing better than singing is more singing.”—Ella Fitzgerald

Billie Holiday , Lester Young, Ben Webster, Gerry Mulligan

“When Lester plays, he almost seems to be singing; one can almost hear the words.”—Billie Holiday

“The beauty of jazz is that it is malleable. People address to suit their own personalities.”—Pat Metheny

 “There are four qualities essential to a great jazzman. They are taste, courage, individuality, and irreverence. These are the qualities I want to retain in my music.”—Stan Getz

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

 “Sometime you have to play a long time to be able to play like yourself.”—Miles Davis

 

Listen to their music on our playlist!

Everlasting A Love Supreme

A Love Supreme, John Coltrane’s signature album, was recorded in one session with his quartet on December 9, 1964 at the Van Gelder Studio in New Jersey and released by Impulse! Records in February of the following year.

The intricate piece flourished from a four-note seed of a relatively simple idea based on the words “a love supreme”, that allowed the musicians—tenor saxophonist John Coltrane, pianist McCoy Tyner, drummer Elvin Jones and bassist Jimmy Garrison—to subtly and carefully entwine it into a 33-minute long four-part suite.

The four movements “Acknowledgement,” “Resolution,” “Pursuance” and “Psalms” symbolize the stepping-stones of Coltrane’s spiritual quest and struggle for purity while overcoming drug and alcohol addiction, which resulted in being fired from Miles Davis’ group. As a true jazz alchemist, Coltraine transformed suffering into a hymn, announcing a major thematic trend in his later works.

poem love supreme

In the manuscript, Coltrane writes that the A Love Supreme motif should be “played in all keys together.” In “Acknowledgement,” he indeed repeats the basic theme in all keys culminating with famous chanting of the theme at the end of the movement. Lewis Porter, the author of John Coltrane: His Life and Music (1999) says: “To me, he’s giving you a message here. Now he’s saying it’s everywhere. It’s in all 12 keys. Anywhere you look, you’re going to find this “Love Supreme”.”

Coltrane was entirely involved in every aspect of A Love Supreme: recording the chant, writing the liner notes and composing a devotional poem to accompany the crowning movement “Psalms” where he performs what he calls a “musical recitation of prayer”, “playing” the words on the saxophone instead of speaking them. Some scholars have considered this performance an homage to the sermons of African American preachers.

Even though there are no recorded interviews of him speaking about the concept behind his masterpiece, this exalting piece of music held an evident personal significance for the ingenious saxophonist. In fact, Coltrane gave very few verbal directions even to his band mates. Tyner remembers the unusual, almost magical atmosphere surrounding the session and calls the album a culmination and natural extension of chemistry honed through years of playing together live.

Powerful and vulnerable at the same time, A Love Supreme exudes with the attuned emotional effusions of each member of Coltrane’s quartet, bringing together the hard bop sensibilities of his early career, Miles Davis-inspired modal influences and the free jazz style he later adopted.

The album’s influence has been extensive from John McLaughlin and Carlos Santana guitar version of “Acknowledgement” to vocal versions by Will Downing, José James and Kurt Elling. The suite also forms four tracks on the Branford Marsalis Quartet album titled Footsteps of Our Fathers. Wynton Marsalis followed his brother’s footsteps and recorded the suite in 2003 with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra.

By December 1965 Coltrane’s monumental achievement was named Downbeat magazine’s Album of the Year, nominated for two Grammy Awards and listed by Rolling Stone as one of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. Quite popular for a jazz album, selling about 500,000 copies by 1970, it still remains a doorway to Coltrane’s music to many people who wouldn’t consider themselves jazz fans.

 

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As further testimony to the recording’s importance, the manuscript for the album is part of the collection of the Smithsonian Institution along with 25 rare and never before displayed photographs from the A Love Supreme recording session and one of Coltrane’s three principal saxophones that his son Ravi generously donated in March 2014.

“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 hang-ups…I want to speak to their souls.” ― John Coltrane

Fun Fact: Coltrane’s home in Dix Hills, Long Island, has been considered as the site of inspiration for A Love Supreme. Now, Coltrane’s son Ravi, Carlos Santana and others want to turn this house into a museum and learning center. They are trying to raise the funds to make this dream a reality.

Jazz Appreciation Month: Jazz Quotes

Here are some quotes from Jazz Masters. Be inspired by their wisdom and music!

Charlie Parker and Miles Davis

“Don’t play the saxophone. Let it play you.”—Charlie Parker

“When people believe in boundaries, they become part of them.” –Don Cherry

“And that’s the soulful thing about playing: you offer something to somebody. You don’t know if they’ll like it, but you offer it.”― Wynton Marsalis, To a Young Jazz Musician: Letters from the Road

“Composing is improvisation slowed down.”—Wayne Shorter

“When you play music you discover a part of yourself that you never knew existed.”—Bill Evans

“Music should always be an adventure.”—Coleman Hawkins

“A good quartet is like a good conversation among friends interacting to each other’s ideas.”—Stan Getz

“The real innovators did their innovating just by being themselves.”—Count Basie

“Improvisation is the ability to create something very spiritual, something of one’s own.”—Sonny Rollins

“The whole thing of being in music is not to control it but to be swept away by it. If you’re swept away by it you can’t wait to do it again and the same magical moments always come.”—Bobby Hutcherson

“The spirit of jazz is the spirit of openness.”—Herbie Hancock

Ella Fitzgerald

“Forgive me if I don’t have the words. Maybe I can sing it and you’ll understand.”—Ella Fitzgerald

“Sometimes I wish I could walk up to my music 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

“A goal is a dream with a finish line.”—Duke Ellington

Listen to their music on our playlist!

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City Music Spotlight: Justin Riggins

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Grade: 10th

Network Site: Berklee City Music, Boston, Massachusetts

Hometown: Dorchester, Massachusetts

Instrument: Drums

Number of Years Playing: 5

Favorite Musician: Ronald Bruner

First Song Learned: “C Jam Blues” by Duke Ellington

Favorite Record: Giant Steps by John Coltrane

What does Berklee City Music mean to you?

Berklee City Music to me is such a blessing. This program is one of the best in the nation because of the resources we have and are provided with. This program allows us as musicians to live out our dreams at a young age and also realize if we want to pursue music as a career. Without this program many individuals would not get a chance to get their feet wet or have an opportunity of the lifetime.

What is it about music that makes you want to be a musician and potentially pursue it as a career?

Music is a vast blanket that covers many different aspects of life. Music is therapeutic, fun, engaging, and helpful. Music provides so many paths because it is associated with everything we do, from the sounds we make to the sounds we hear. Music is always around us, and to be able to make yourself and others feel good makes being a musician a great career choice.

Who had the greatest influence on your life and why?

My mother has the greatest influence on my life because she is my rock. She has always supported me and stood by my side. She has cared for me like no one else has and always encourages me to pursue anything I want. She is also my pride and joy and I would be nothing without her.

Outside of music what are your interests and hobbies? 

Outside of music I enjoy spending time with family and friends. As I grow older each year I value the relationships that I have with people more and more. I came to this realization when one of my close friends passed away. I understood that life was a privilege and we must make the most out of our time on this earth. To wake up every day is wonderful but at times we can take our lives for granted because we are so caught up in things. We should take a step back and realize what we have.