Be Playful

22 Jazz Musicians on the Improvised Life

Posted on: 9 January 2009

ron carter____________________Miles smiles (by La Manchù)

Life is a lot like jazz: it’s best when you improvise.
~ George Gershwin

1. Bobby Hutcherson: Let go of the Control Panel

‘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.’

2. Don Pullen: Use What You’ve Got

‘All the music you’ve ever heard in your life is somewhere in your head. I don’t reject that, I use it.’

3. Miles Davis: Have the Patience to Become Yourself

‘Sometimes you have to play a long time to be able to play like yourself.’

4. Carla Bley: Perfect is Boring

‘What’s interesting about a person without problems?’

5. Ed Thigpen: Share Your Gifts

‘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.’

MoonWalking (by Ana Filipa Machado)

6. Paul Whiteman: Remember the Past

‘Jazz came to America three hundred years ago in chains.’

7. Thelonius Monk: Freedom = Structure + Improvisation

‘Jazz is freedom. You think about that.’

8. Paul Desmond: Be Grateful for Family

‘I would also like to thank my father who discouraged me from playing the violin at an early age.’

9. Billy Taylor: Learn from Others

‘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.’

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10. Aaron Copland: Life’s Meaning is Found Through Living

‘The whole problem can be stated quite simply by asking ‘Is there a meaning to music?’ My answer would be, ‘Yes’, And ‘Can you state in so many words what the meaning is?’ My answer to that would be ‘No.”

11. Art Blakey: Take Regular Showers

‘Jazz washes away the dust of every day life.’

12. Bix Beiderbecke: Celebrate the Unexpected

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

13. Miles Davis: Failure is Not An Option

‘Do not fear mistakes, there are none.’

14. Louis Armstrong: Go One Step Further

‘We all do ‘do, re, mi,’ but you have got to find the other notes yourself.’

15. Charlie Haden:  Give Time to your Spiritual Side

‘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.’

16. Oscar Peterson: Recognise your Interdependence

‘It’s the group sound that’s important, even when you’re playing a solo. You not only have to know your own instrument, you must know the others and how to back them up at all times. That’s jazz.’

17. Earl Hines: Take Pride in your Appearance

‘You may have holes in your shoes, but don’t let the people out front know it. Shine the tops.’

18. Joe Venuti: Fail With Style

‘If you’re going to make a mistake, make it loud so everybody else sounds wrong.’

19. Benny Green: Be a Clown

‘A jazz musician is a juggler who uses harmonies instead of oranges.’

20. Paul Desmond: Be Beautiful, Original, and Sincere

‘The qualities in music which I considered most important — and still do — were beauty, simplicity, originality, discrimination, and sincerity.’

Drummer Billy Cobham at the WOMAD (by Pix Gremlin)

21. Thelonious Monk: Words aren’t Everything

‘Talking about music is like dancing about architecture.’

22. Dizzy Gillespie: Keep Learning Everyday

‘It’s taken me all my life to learn what not to play.’

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3 Responses to "22 Jazz Musicians on the Improvised Life"

wonderful post!loved each of the quotes..!
just reminded me of a quote : “Love is like playing the piano. First you must learn to play by the rules,
then you must forget the rules and play from your heart”

anoop, that’s a great quote. Do you know who said it?

david, i belive its unknown author.I had come across it long back from a selection of Love quotes and liked it…!

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