Quotes about Jazz from Those who Play it and Those who Love it

June 24, 2015
The 100th Anniversary of the first use of the word "Jazz" is coming up on July 11th and this list presents quotes about what Jazz is as an art form and what it has meant in the lives of those quoted. If one isn't raised listening to Jazz, or taught it in school or through a music program, it can admittedly be difficult to appreciate when you first start to listen. Its pleasures may be less immediate, but they can be enriching and long-lasting. Here are 11 quotes about the personal and national significance of Jazz.
Jazz music is America's past and its potential, summed up and sanctified and accessible to anybody who learns to listen to, feel, and understand it. The music can connect us to our earlier selves and to our better selves-to-come. It can remind us of where we fit on the time line of human achievement, an ultimate value of art.
— Wynton Marsalis
Jazz is a very democratic musical form. It comes out of a communal experience. We take our respective instruments and collectively create a thing of beauty.
— Max Roach
Jazz music is an intensified feeling of nonchalance.
— Francoise Sagan
Eclecticism is the word. Like a jazz musician who creates his own style out of the styles around him, I play by ear.
— Ralph Ellison
It's not easy to play in a framework that requires simplicity and to tastefully find ways to interject the kind of freedom that we have in playing jazz.
— Herbie Hancock
The genius of our country is improvisation, and jazz reflects that. It's our great contribution to the arts.
— Ken Burns
Jazz music by its very nature is just a conglomerate of a lot of different kinds of music.
— David Sanborn
Some people try to get very philosophical and cerebral about what they're trying to say with jazz. You don't need any prologues, you just play.
— Oscar Peterson
The beauty of jazz is that it's malleable. People are addressing it to suit their own personalities.
— Pat Matheny
The history of jazz lets us know that this period in our history is not the only period we've come through together. If we truly understood the history of our national arts, we'd know that we have mutual aspirations, a shared history, in good times and bad.
— Wynton Marsalis
I only hope that one day, America will recognize what the rest of the world already has known, that our indigenous music - gospel, blues, jazz and R&B - is the heart and soul of all popular music; and that we cannot afford to let this legacy slip into obscurity, I'm telling you.
— Quincy Jones

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