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



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!

Jazz Quotes

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

“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

“If you don’t make mistakes, you aren’t really trying.”—Coleman Hawkins

Billie Holiday and Coleman Hawkins

“The whole basis of my singing is feeling. Unless I feel something, I can’t sing.”—Billie Holiday

“It’s very difficult for me to dislike an artist. No matter what he’s creating, the fact that he’s experiencing the joy of creation makes me feel like we’re in a brotherhood of some kind… we’re in it together.”—Chick Corea

“Listening is the key to everything good in music.”—Pat Metheny

“Clouds float in the same pattern only once.”—Wayne Shorter

“I merely took the energy it takes to pout and wrote some blues.”—Duke Ellington

“It’s taken me all my life to learn what not to play.”—Dizzy Gillespie

“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

“I’m trying to play the truth of what I am. The reason why it’s difficult is because I’m changing all the time.”—Charles Mingus

“Jazz is the type of music that can absorb so many things and still be jazz.”—Sonny Rollins

“Jazz has the power to make men forget their differences and come together… Jazz is the personification of transforming overwhelmingly negative circumstances into freedom, friendship, hope, and dignity.”—Quincy Jones

Miles Davis

“Nothing is out of the question for me. I’m always thinking about creating. My future starts when I wake up in the morning and see the light…Then I’m grateful.”—Miles Davis

“One thing I like about jazz, kid, is that I don’t know what’s going to happen next. Do you?”—Bix Beiderbecke


Listen to their music on our playlist!



Brilliant and Troubled Lady Day

Known for her complexity, uncompromising artistry, notorious private life and gardenias in her hair, Billie Holiday still holds the status of a legendary and unique jazz diva. Her undeniable gift to make any song her own left the jazz legacy with some of its most sensitive vocal performances, including  ”Lover Man,” “Don’t Explain,” “Strange Fruit” and her own composition, “God Bless the Child”.


Born Eleanora Fagan, Billie Holiday grew up in Baltimore in the 1920s with her mother. Often left in the care of other people, she was raped at the age of ten and sent to a reformatory for allegedly seducing her attacker. Shortly after, Billie followed her mother to New York City and worked in a Harlem brothel. During this time, she found solace in music, singing along to the records of Bessie Smith and Louis “Pops” Armstrong.  Billie later explained, “I always wanted Bessie’s big sound and Pops’s feeling.” 

She changed her name to Billie Holiday, adapting “Billie” from the movie star Billie Dove and her father’s last name. Jazz promoter John Hammond heard Billie for the first time in New York’s Monette’s club in 1933 and wrote in the magazine Melody Maker that, “Billie, although only 18, weighs over 200 pounds, is incredibly beautiful, and sings as well as anybody I ever heard”. Hammond told clarinetist and popular bandleader Benny Goodman about Holiday and the two went to to hear Holiday at Monette’s. Both were impressed, and that was the start of Billie’s career.

Billie went on to record and perform with Teddy Wilson, Duke Ellington, Artie Shaw and Lester Young. Her longtime friend Lester is responsible for her nickname “Lady Day,” inspired by the sophistication and grace that she would bring to every song. She nicknamed him back “Prez” as a way of expressing her admiration for Lester.

Billie and Duke

After her mother’s death in 1945, Billie began drinking more and escalated her drug abuse to ease the grief. Hard living took a toll on her career. She was arrested and convicted for narcotics possession and sentenced to one year of jail time.  Her conviction banned her from singing in cabarets and clubs.  She was still able to perform at concert halls and sold out Carnegie Hall not long after her release.  She rekindled the public’s attention by sharing her turbulent life story in Lady Sings the Blues (1956), written in collaboration with William Dufty.

Soon after her last performance in New York City in 1959, she was admitted to the hospital for heart and liver problems. Billie Holiday passed away from alcohol and drug related complications at the age of 44.

Torture and anguish were her faithful companions. She was addicted to drugs, beaten by men that she loved and abandoned, but with her music and artistry she turned all of that adversity to beauty.