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

The word "jazz" was first used in a musical context on July 11th, 1915. Here are 11 quotes about the personal and cultural significance of Jazz, a uniquely American art form.

Activities for this list:

definitions & notes only words
  1. phrase
    a short musical passage
    I don’t need words – it’s all in the phrasing.
    — Louis Armstrong
  2. sanctify
    render holy by means of religious rites
    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
  3. communal
    for or by a group rather than individuals
    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
  4. nonchalance
    the trait of remaining calm and seeming not to care
    Jazz music is an intensified feeling of nonchalance.
    — Francoise Sagan
  5. eclectic
    selecting what seems best of various styles or ideas
    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
  6. interject
    insert between other elements
    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
  7. improvisation
    a performance given without planning or preparation
    The genius of our country is improvisation, and jazz reflects that. It's our great contribution to the arts.
    — Ken Burns
  8. conglomerate
    composed of heterogeneous elements gathered into a mass
    Jazz music by its very nature is just a conglomerate of a lot of different kinds of music.
    — David Sanborn
  9. cerebral
    involving intelligence rather than emotions or instinct
    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
  10. malleable
    capable of being shaped or bent
    The beauty of jazz is that it's malleable. People are addressing it to suit their own personalities.
    — Pat Matheny
  11. aspiration
    a cherished desire
    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
  12. indigenous
    originating where it is found
    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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