"The best reaction I ever got? It might not sound like the best, but the first time I went to Europe with Herbie (Mann), a guy in Berlin rushed down the aisle during my solo and started pounding on the stage, screaming 'THIS IS NOT JAZZ! THIS IS NOT JAZZ! THIS IS NOT JAZZ!' At least I reached him..."back
Sonny Sharrock, on the best reaction he ever got to a performance. From Francis Davis' "Bebop and Nothingness"
There are inside records, which are outtakes, from both the Capitol and Reprise years and on them, you hear take after take of Frank Sinatra and in a sense, he's just as creative an improviser as Charlie Parker. Every take is different, he approaches each in a slightly different way. He's always searching.
Sinatra's a total musician in the sense that he's not just a singer, he's a passionate, dedicated, effective searcher who wants to be in control of all the action. He's a perfectionist, as you can hear on some of the bootleg records from the studio. He knows how to set the mood, he knows exactly what's happening in the orchestra. He'll say, hey, that trombone player, that note is getting in the way of my range. I'm a little weak, he explains in a session, this note is a little weak, can you change the voicing of this chord. He knows exactly what's going on and he gets what he wants.back
John Zorn on Frank Sinatra, from JazzTimes, May, 1998
I recently had the opportunity while in New York at the International Association of Jazz Educators convention in January to see Joe Lovano perform with Tom Harrell, Ray Drummond and Billy Hart at the Village Vanguard. As the show got underway, it became apparent early on that Tom was having a particularly hard time combatting his illness that night (Tom is schizophrenic). About halfway through the set, Joe called "Body And Soul", and played the melody with just bass and drum accompaniment, after which Drummond played an unaccompanied one-chorus solo. Tom then played a gorgeous chorus, at the end of which you could hear he was starting to struggle with his chops. As Joe prepared to start his solo, Tom fearlessly plunged into a second chorus. He hadn't gotten far when his technique started to fail. By the middle of the bridge, he was struggling to get a note out of his horn. By now, the rhythm section had dropped to a whisper, and you could've heard a pin drop in the room. In an attempt to finish, Tom started to play the last "A" section of the melody verbatim, but he was having such a hard time by this point that he had to finish out of time, and the band just ended the tune right there. About a five-second silence enveloped the room, and I came to the realization that I was crying. Looking around, I saw a lot of other people were doing the same thing. To watch Tom struggle and succeed was one of the most inspiring things I've experienced in my jazz career thus far, and it is certainly an experience I'll never forget. Thank you, Tom.back
Dan Cross, from Downbeat, May, 1998
In jazz as in classical music, there are two types of virtuosity: the utilitarian and the utopian. The utilitarian - that of an Oscar Peterson or a Freddie Hubbard - leaves you feeling that you've just heard a musician unsurpassed at what he does. The utopian - that of Gilespie, Parker, Armstrong, Cecil Taylor, Sonny Rollins, and Art Tatum - momentarily persuades you that human knowledge has evolved to such an extent that nothing is impossible.back
Francis Davis, Jazz Writer
...it was obvious even from the start that many jazz writers either do not know their subject, only care about one style (while still feeling free to write about areas that they despise), seem to put themselves on an equal level (or even higher) than the creators, or are more concerned with musicians' personalities (and judge them accordingly) than trying to understand their music.back
Scott Yanow, Jazz Writer
There's suddenly a lot of pressure to do music from 'in the tradition'. But the truest homage to Charlie Parker, for example, isn't to play his tunes or play just like him, but to...play something new that wouldn't be possible without Charlie Parker's example. The most vital contribution you can make to furthering the jazz tradition is to create your own music, create a new music.back
Jazz music has always been burdened with a tradition of writers
who hang onto it, they're paternalistic, and they always feel as
though they know more than the musician knows. This is the thing that I've always been trying to say in public, and why a lot of
times they've said I'm outspoken and all of this. I'm not outspoken. It's just that these people who are supposed to be conduits between the musicians and the public don't function in that fashion. They feel that they are above the musician or that they are above the music, and they aren't.
What happens in the Jazz world defies logic. It's absurd almost. I
never can really figure out if the intellectual community and the
writers who surround the Jazz community are interested in the
music. Like, they will say something is a new version of Jazz if a
musician says he's not playing Jazz. The latest example would be
this so-called Jazz-Rap trend, where it's just somebody rapping
and somebody plays solos like we used to play in the Seventies on
top of it. Then all of the people who are supposed to be dealing
with Jazz jump on the bandwagon, and they're talking about, "This
is the new form of Jazz, and finally people are overcoming the
conservativeness of..." This is just crazy! It's ludicrous.
I have to admit that more and more lately, the whole idea of jazz as an idiom is one that I've completely rejected. I just don't see it as an idiomatic thing any more...To me, if jazz is anything, it's a process, and maybe a verb, but it's not a thing. It's a form that demands that you bring to it things that are valuable to you, that are personal to you. That, for me, is a pretty serious distinction that doesn't have anything to do with blues, or swing, or any of these other things that tend to be listed as essentials in order for music to be jazz with a capital J.
There's always this confusion between sociology and music. When you try to teach students, you can't teach them sociology. You have to teach them something about music. I can't stand in front of a class and say, "Well, man, I want you to go home and stand ona corner with a chicken wing, and then come back and put some barbecue sauce on it, and come back next week, and then you will
be able to play some Blues." You have to come with something specific, which is not necessarily technical.back
Everybody's bitching these days about how the new students and young players all sound the same. What else can be expected of a jazz education system that is becoming increasingly codified and standardized? This tendency to over-organize jazz pedagogy has not been in the best interests of those who would develop their own voice. Used to be, back when there was less music theory available, the players developed more varied playing styles because of the lack of information, through the painful process of trial and error. When you have a large classroom of students being told you play this scale over that chord, they're all going to play that chord that way. An effective teacher should know how to get out of the way of a student's development.back
I was searching for a way to relate free playing to a steady rythm section when one night Ornette Coleman and Don Cherry sat in with my band at the Hillcrest Club. I recognized, instantly, that A A B A was over, to be replaced by A to Z.back
That's got to be Eric Dolphy - nobody else could sound that bad! The next time I see him I'm going to step on his foot. You print that. I think he's ridiculous. He's a sad ____________.
L.F. Down Beat won't print those words.
M.D. Just put he1s a sad shhhhhhhhh, that's all! The composition is sad. The
piano player _____ it up, getting in the way so that you can't hear how
things are supposed to be accented.
It's a sad record, and it's the record companies fault again. I didn't like
the trumpet players tone, and he don't do nothing. The running is all right
if you're going to play that way, like Freddie Hubbard or Lee Morgan; but
you've got to inject something, and you1ve got to have the rhythm section
along; you just can't keep on playing eighth notes.
The piano player's sad. You have to think when you play; you have to help
each other - you just can't play for yourself. You've got to play with
whomever you're playing with. If I'm playing with Basie, I'm going to try to
help what he's doing - that particular feeling. back
Miles Davis, DownBeat Blindfold Test, when played "Mary Ann." Booker Little, trumpet; Dolphy, composer, alto saxophone; Jaki Byrd, piano
"It's totally unrealistic to think that you're going to be a great player just because you know how to play fast or you know how to play 5,000 styles," he says. "I read reviews of new players who can sit in with anybody or play with five different types of band in five nights - and everybody talks about this like it's a positive thing. If you get an audience and you get gigs and you have a name before you have anything to say, it actually wipes out the possibility of saying something later on. The people who would produce valuable things are waylaid too soon. The bigger the media, the worse it is for the artist.
I'm not even sure I should use the word artist. There are some ages, I think, that don't deserve art as much as others. I almost think we live in a time now when that is true."
He begins to sound like some latter-day Rousseau mouming the
demise of the noble savage. "The old days of jazz were much
healthier for the music itself," he says. "I think there's a
horrible thing going on now, where young players haven't been
told by the right people that there's more to it than marketing
themselves. They expend all the energy they should be using to
find their voice, or work on their voice, or listen to
themselves play. They've got to resist this stuff. I was called
by Columbia at one point when I was with this little ECM record
label, and they offered me a giant advance. I said no. It's not
just what's getting exposed, but who you're exposing it to.ii
Jarrett saves his most pointed attacks on the current jazz
establishment for Marsalis. "Wynton imitates other people's
styles too well," he says. "You can't learn to imitate everyone
else without a real deficit. I've never heard anything Wynton
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 plays things really,
really,really badly that you cannot screw up unless you are a
bad player. I've felt embarrassed listening to him, and I'm
white. Behind his humble speech, there is an incredible
arrogance. And for a great black player who talks about the
blues - I've never heard Wynton play the blues convincingly,
and I'd challenge him to a blues standoff any time. He's jazzy
the same way someone who drives a BMW is sporty." back
Excerpt from Keith Jarrett interview in The New York Times Magazine by Andrew Solomon, Feb. 9, 1997
By nature I'm a battler. I love to battle for the fun of it. A lot of times with the media, if you have a strong opinion, they try to present you as rigid. But I don't mind somebody who thinks something different. I actually enjoy a good argument. back
Wynton Marsalis, JazzTimes March, 1997
There's nothing wrong with it. It's only a word. What's in a name? Nothing! Cats say, "Call me Muhammed so-and-so." But what's the difference? A name doesn't make the music. It's just called that to differentiate it from other types of music. Jazz is known all over the world as an American musical art form and that's it. No America, no jazz. I've seen people try to connect it to other countries, for instance to Africa, but it doesn't have a damn thing to do with Africa. back
Art Blakey on the word "jazz." From Art Taylor's 'Notes and Tones' December 29, 1971
I've never been impressed by anything played on the guitar....There weren't any guitarists of that calibre then, and I don't hear anything like that now. back
Guitarist Sonny Sharrock, from JazzTimes August, 1994
I don't know the name of the tune....I don't even like to use the word negative, but the thing that I was noticing is that it's kind of out of control. Sometimes he was banging on the piano to make up for something that wasn't quite together. I kept wanting it to go into a straight stride thing and it never did. I know I do that a lot too, because stride is something that I need to work on. It sounds like one of the younger New York pianists like maybe Stephen Scott...." back
Pianist Billy Childs, from JazzTimes 'Before and After', when played John Coltrane's 'Crescent', as played by McCoy Tyner, May 1993.
The new generation of American musicians is killing jazz.....The richness in the music is fast disappearing. I question the ambition of the younger jazzmen; their level of musicianship is far lower than what was common when I was breaking in.....Of course, I'd rather say nice things about today's jazz and jazzmen, but, frankly, I don't think the compliments are deserved. The youngsters are looking for gimmicks, the easy roads, when there are none! back
Drummer Kenny Clarke, in an interview Dec. 5, 1963
NOTE: Some of these quotes were shamelessly stolen from various sources around the internet. You can a few of these quotes and more on DD Jackson's homepage.