Jazz Sayings and Quotes

Below you will find our collection of inspirational, wise, and humorous old jazz quotes, jazz sayings, and jazz proverbs, collected over the years from a variety of sources.

Forgive me if I don't have the words. Maybe I can sing it & you'll understand. Ella Fitzgerald
Jazz stands for freedom. Dave Brubeck
Without jazz, life would be a mistake. Boris Vian
If a Jazz musician plays someone else's song, he has a responsibility to make a distinct & original statement. Todd Boyd
Jazz is the false liquidation of art, instead of utopia becoming reality it disappears from the picture. Theodor W. Adorno
Jazz is not dead, it just smells funny. Frank Zappa
A Jazz man should be saying what he feels: humor, sadness, joy all the things that humans have. Bob Brookmeyer
Jazz is about being in the moment. Herbie Hancock
Jazz is the big brother of Revolution. Revolution follows it around. Miles Davis
If jazz has to be termed as a wave, then music is a sea, but if the reflectors in the water is the chord. Thelonious Monk
Jazz is a beautiful woman whose older brother is a policeman. Sid Caesar
It pulled me like a magnet, jazz did, because it was a way that I could express myself. Herbie Hancock
Jazz is something you have to feel, something you have to live. Ray Brown
I still love the whole history of jazz. The old things sound better than ever. Steve Lacy
Jazz is a white term to define black people. My music is black classical music. Nina Simone
It bugs me when people try to analyze jazz as an intellectual theorem. It's not. It's feeling. Bill Evans
Jazz is one of the best things that you can find in your life, it can always be your friend. George Gershwin
If a jazz player is really playing, the classical player will have to respect him. Wes Montgomery
The essentials of Jazz are: melodic improvisation, melodic invention, swing & instrumental personality. Mose Allison
Jazz is the sound of surprise. Whitney Balliett
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. Oscar Peterson
Jazz is a spectacularly accurate model of democracy & a look into our redemptive future possibilities. Ken Burns
That's the thing about jazz: it's free flowing, it comes from your soul. Billy Crystal
By & large Jazz has always been like the kind of a man you wouldn't want your daughter to associate with. Duke Ellington
One chord is fine. Two chords are pushing it. Three chords and you're into jazz. Lou Reed
Jazz was not only built in the minds of the great ones, but on the backs of the ordinary ones. Cab Calloway
Jazz music doesn't have an expiration date. Anonymous
Jazz was born out of the whiskey bottle, was raised on marijuana, and will expire on cocaine. Artie Shaw
Anyone who understands Jazz knows that you can't understand it. It's too complicated. That's what's so simple about it. Yogi Berra
Jazz is the assassination, the murdering, the slaying of syncopation. I would even go so far as to confess that we are musical anarchists. Nick La Rocca
The day of the great jazz improviser who doesn't know how to read music is over. Maynard Ferguson
The genius of our country is improvisation, and jazz reflects that. It's our great contribution to the arts. Ken Burns
It takes an intelligent ear to listen to Jazz. Art Blakey
If you have to ask what jazz is, you'll never know. Louis Armstrong
Life is a lot like jazz. It's best when you improvise. George Gershwin
It's not exclusive, but inclusive, which is the whole spirit of jazz. Herbie Hancock
You will never know what the meaning of Jazz is if ask what it means. Louis Armstrong
I don't get jazz. It always sounds like a bunch of toddlers let loose in a music room. Libba Bray
Jazz is an open ended music designed for open minds. Anonymous
Jazz is played from the heart. You can even live by it. Always love it. Louis Armstrong
When you are studying Jazz best thing to do is listen to records & live music as much you can & absorb everything. Carla Bley
Jazz is the only music in which the same note can be played night after night but differently each time. Ornette Coleman
A jazz musician is a juggler who uses harmonies instead of oranges. Benny Green
If you're in jazz and more than ten people like you, you're labeled commercial. Herbie Mann
It doesn't mean a thing / If it ain't got that swing. Irving Mills
Jazz music is to be played sweet, soft, plenty rhythm. Jelly Roll Morton
Jazz will endure, just as long as people hear it through their feet instead of their brains. John Philip Sousa
What a terrible revenge by the culture of the Negroes on that of the Whites! Ignacy Jan Paderewski
Jazz is the big brother of the blues. If a guy's playing blues, 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
The word jazz in its progress toward respectability has meant first sex, then dancing, then music. F.Scott Fitzgerald
If they act too hip, you know they can't play. Louis Armstrong
There's more bad music in jazz than any other form. Maybe that's because the audience doesn't really know what's happening. Pat Metheny
It's like an act of murder. You play with intent to commit something. Duke Ellington
What is jazz? It's almost like asking, What is French? Jazz is a musical language— a dialect that actually embodies the spirit of America. Branford Marsalis
The music of the body. Anais Nin
Jazz and love are the hardest things to describe from rationale. Mel Torme
Jazz music is an intensified feeling of nonchalance. Francoise Sagan
Jazz is five guys playing different songs. Steve McGrew
First, you master your instrument, then you master the music, then you forget all that shit and just play. Charlie Parker
If you don't live it, it won't come out of your horn. Charlie Parker
There are no wrong notes. Thelonius Monk
Beiderbecke took out a silver cornet. He put it to his lips and blew a phrase. The sound came out like a girl saying yes. Eddie Condo
Milton, of all people, gave the most perfect definition of the state of mind required to play jazz: 'with wanton heed and giddy cunning.' That's how you play jazz. Paul Desmond
Jazz came to America three hundred years ago in chains. Paul Whiteman
If you wanted to get into jazz, you had to go downtown where the pimps, prostitutes, hustlers, gangsters, and gamblers supported the music. If it wasn't for them there would be no jazz. Betty Carter
Jazz was invented for people to dance to, we can't get away from that. My music calls for listening but it'll still make you shake your head and pat your feet. Dizzy Gillespie
Jazz is like an addict on crack, / It gets inside of you, and then / It becomes your very best friend. / Once you go Jazz, you'll never go back! Kenneth R. Jenkins
Jazz without melody, / an arm with no hand / A heart without blood / —a sea with no land. Kurt Philip Behm
Sing me to sleep when I go west / The latest thing you know / In jazz; and sing with brutal zest / While the saxophones moan low / And the squawkers squawk and the banjos strum / To the bang and the boom of the big bass drum. Clarence Michael James Stanislaus Dennis
Take some skins, / Jazz begins, / Take a bass / Steady pace, / Take a box, / One that rocks, / Take a blue horn New Orleans-born. / Take a stick / With a lick, / Take a bone, / Dixie-grown, / Take a spot, / Cool and hot, / Now you has jazz jazz jazz, jazz, jazz. Cole Porter
Now there's young cats blowin' / And more and more people, yes they will be knowin' / Jazz ain't the past, this music's gonna last / And as the facts unfold, remember who foretold. Keith Elam