110+ Best Jazz Quotes: Exclusive Selection

Profoundly inspirational jazz quotes will fire up your brain and encourage you to look at life differently while making you laugh.

Famous Jazz Quotes

Jazz is not something that can be defined through blunt instruments. It is much more poetic than that. — Pat Metheny

I’m not really married to the craft of jazz – I’m married to me, and my style, and whatever I produce. — Robert Glasper

Bach was a top harmonist geezer, which is why the jazz cats love him. — Nigel Kennedy

If I am playing any music at all it is jazz music. — Ginger Baker

Diplomacy is like jazz: endless variations on a theme. — Richard Holbrooke

Jazz is more raw than punk in a lot of ways. It’s so expressive. A lot of people say to me, especially older people, ‘It took me ages to get into jazz.’ — King Krule

I listen to jazz about three hours a day. I love Louis Armstrong. — Philip Levine

Jazz can be a blank canvas full of possibilities. — Barbara Januszkiewicz

With rock music, the amount of power that you can generate, the intensity behind the intentions of your lyrics that you can really reflect through rock music – you can’t do that in jazz. You can’t do that with classical. — Serj Tankian

I studied the lives of jazz singers who would tour Europe, and… what I learned was life was big ride for them. They’d seen the dark side of humanity… but touring the world playing jazz, it was a truly carefree way of living. A great escapism, if you like. — Gary Carr

I like all kinds of music, though I tend to prefer jazz and classics. — Erik Larson

What we know about the destination resort business is clearly established. But it’s all about one thing, and one thing only. All of the razzmatazz and jazz we hear about facilities and everything else doesn’t amount to a hill of beans. It’s customer experience that determines the longevity and endurance of these enterprises. — Steve Wynn

I also like Western classical music and jazz. — Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

It was when I found out I could make mistakes that I knew I was on to something. — Ornette Coleman

You know, it’s funny… when you’re making money, people don’t think you’re playing jazz. Now when you’re not making money, people think that you’re a good jazz musician. — Pete Fountain

It pulled me like a magnet, jazz did, because it was a way that I could express myself. — Herbie Hancock

On the radio I listen to the easy-listening stations, the jazz stations. — Patti Page

Jazz music and, more specifically, jazz musicians, are my artistic heroes. I want to be the Thelonious Monk of acting. He had no concern for how well he was received. He played whatever he wanted whenever he wanted. He just wasn’t interested in achieving the good opinion of his audience. That’s the Holy Grail of acting; of any art form. — Trevor St. John

Jazz music, as is also the case with the old down-home spirituals, gospel and jubilee songs, jumps, shouts and moans, is essentially an American vernacular or idiomatic modification of musical conventions imported from Europe, beginning back during the time of the early settlers of the original colonies. — Albert Murray

Records used to be documents, but now record companies want product. — Stan Getz

We don’t live in a jazz world, unfortunately. I think if I had lived in a jazz world, I would have done OK. I’m not sure I would have done great. I’m a lover of jazz music, so I would have been happy, don’t get me wrong. I go to jazz concerts like the biggest jazz fan in world. The drag is that I don’t play jazz for a living. — George Benson

I always say that the problem with jazz accessibility is not the content of the music, it’s people’s ability to access it. — Esperanza Spalding

The public, hearing pop music, is, without knowing it, also soaking up jazz. — Norman Granz

That’s kind of like how jazz is sometimes. You’re out there predicting the future, and no one believes you. — Branford Marsalis

I love jazz and funk, because it’s hard. If it’s not hard, it’s not worth doing. — Chris Carter

Today jazz is still very much alive. Everywhere I go there’s a new generation of musicians. — Toots Thielemans

If you met my dad, I think a lot of things would be put to rest. Because my pops is a pretty silly guy. But, Coldcut, they’re based in the U.K. I’m a big fan of jazz music, so American music has had a big influence on what I listen to. — Eric San

The only time I’ve ever really felt envy is when I’ve watched people make music, which made my time living in the now-legendary Jazz Loft at 821 Sixth Avenue in New York a constant source of agony and ecstasy! — Harold Feinstein

I’ve been invited to do a trio with a fantastic jazz guitarist and a harmonica player — Karen Black

Miles Davis fully embraced possibilities and delved into it. He was criticized heavily from the jazz side. He was supposed to be part of a tradition, but he didn’t consider himself part of a tradition. — Bill Laswell

For me, let’s keep jazz as folk music. Let’s not make jazz classical music. Let’s keep it as street music, as people’s everyday-life music. Let’s see jazz musicians continue to use the materials, the tools, the spirit of the actual time that they’re living in, as what they build their lives as musicians around. — Pat Metheny

Short Jazz Quotes

You have to go out and learn jazz by playing. — Paul Horn

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

There is an apprenticeship system in jazz. You teach the young ones. So even if the musicians weren’t personally that likable, they felt an obligation to help the younger musicians. — Dave Van Ronk

I am not a jazz singer. I wouldn’t place myself on that footing. I wouldn’t even enter that arena. — Boz Scaggs

In jazz, there is a lot of European influence harmonically. — Dexter Gordon

Words are the children of reason and, therefore, can’t explain it. They really can’t translate feeling because they’re not part of it. That’s why it bugs me when people try to analyze jazz as an intellectual theorem. It’s not. It’s feeling. — Bill Evans

He would catapult you forward, and that was his intention with the Jazz Messengers. He would take young people with a potential and help them develop a voice as a player and as a writer. — Benny Green

Louis Armstrong is quite simply the most important person in American music. He is to 20th century music (I did not say jazz) what Einstein is to physics. — Ken Burns

Jazz has borrowed from other genres of music and also has lent itself to other genres of music. — Herbie Hancock

I would like to be a scholar in whatever I do, a scholar is never finished, he is always seeking and I am always seeking. — Ahmad Jamal

Well, I think writing is basically about time and rhythm. Like with jazz. You have your basic melody and then you just riff off of it. And the riffs are about timing. — Kathy Acker

I think you have to have a jazz pedigree to be on jazz radio. — Rita Coolidge

You know I want to sing for people, I want to jazz people up I want to make new music that they’ve never heard. — Casey Abrams

The most common misconception about me is that I’m basically a jazz singer. — Phoebe Snow

If I want the day off, the boss never says ‘No.’ I paint away listening to an iTunes jazz station called KCSM Jazz Radio. It’s perfect. Good music and no news traffic or celebrities. — Korky Paul

Possibly, I should have been a jazz singer from the beginning. — Rita Coolidge

I wanted to make a jazz record. I didn’t want it to be a standards record. — Rita Coolidge

Hamp would ask me about tempos in the band: ‘Jacquet,’ he’d say, ‘knock off that tempo.’ A lot of jazz musicians didn’t prefer to play for dancers, which was their loss, really. But good jazz has always had that dance feel. — Illinois Jacquet

What I’m doing, I prefer to call that jazz, because it is a beautiful word – I love it. — Dexter Gordon

Jazz stands for freedom. It’s supposed to be the voice of freedom: Get out there and improvise, and take chances, and don’t be a perfectionist – leave that to the classical musicians. — Dave Brubeck

I’d like to play for you one of my compositions, my only composition. — Dizzy Gillespie

I would love to do a biopic of a famous singer, like Diana Ross or Donna Summer, or an old jazz story that we haven’t seen before. I would love to do that! I would love to play Diana Ross ’cause she’s an icon. I’m salivating to do that. — Taraji P. Henson

As far as I’m concerned, blues and jazz are the great American contributions to music. — Edgar Winter

It seems that jazz is more cerebral and more mathematical in a sense. — Rita Coolidge

What I’m dealing with is so vast and great that it can’t be called the truth. It’s above the truth. — Sun Ra

It’s like a whole orchestra, the piano for me. — Dave Brubeck

Many fail to realize this great recording industry was built by so-called jazz artists. And at the other end of the spectrum, a base in European classical music as well. — Ahmad Jamal

And I used to listen to a lot of jazz. — Debra Wilson

Writing is like jazz. It can be learned, but it can’t be taught. — Paul Desmond

I don’t know if I have enough guts to do a whole standard jazz record. — Gary Cherone

Jazz Quotes About Life and Love

One interesting thing about jazz, or art in general, but jazz especially is such an individual art form in the sense that improvisation is such a big part of it, so it feels like it should be less soldiers in an army and more like free spirits melding. And yet, big band jazz has a real military side to it. — Damien Chazelle

Mum left school at 15, and after a few years of modelling and dating jazz musicians, was married by 21 to my father, Mike Taylor, a journalist on the ‘Daily Mirror.’ They had my brother and me pretty quickly and had split up by the time I was two. I don’t really have any memories of them as a couple. — Natascha McElhone

I want them to come away with discovering the music inside them. And not thinking about themselves as jazz musicians, but thinking about themselves as good human beings, striving to be a great person and maybe they’ll become a great musician. — Charlie Haden

It never gets boring for me because there’s so many different things to explore in the studio. The studio’s become the sanctuary that people have come in and found new things out about themselves, as weird as that sounds. But it’s true, I’m no different. I’ve made some crazy hard records, and I’ve made a jazz album. — Mac Miller

All a musician can do is to get closer to the sources of nature, and so feel that he is in communion with the natural laws. — John Coltrane

It’s true I’ve always been attracted to the jazz band in an orchestral way, rather than a band way. — Gerry Mulligan

There is a modern take on certain things you can do that, to me, is still jazz. — Robert Glasper

I learned jazz; that comes from blues. I learned rock; that comes from blues. I learned pop; that comes from blues. Even dance, that comes from blues, with the answer-and-response. — Cyndi Lauper

I’ve learnt new scales through playing different types of music, like Indian raga scales, gipsy scales and harmonically-based jazz scales. — Nigel Kennedy

Big band music, to me, it really has three key elements. First is the lyrics are really sweet, and they’re just really family-friendly. The second thing is the music is jazz music, so the music is complicated enough to hold your attention for 5 or 6 million plays. That makes the songs interesting. The last part is the fact that it’s danceable. — John Tesh

I was in a rock band; I was my own folk singer; I was in a death metal band for a very short time; I was in a cover band, a jazz band, a blues band. I was in a gospel choir. — Kiesza

Jazz is the art of thinking out loud. — Barbara Januszkiewicz

The first jazz pianist I heard was Thelonious Monk. My father was listening to an album of his called ‘Monk’s Dream’ almost every day from the time I was born. — Benny Green

I love many kinds of music: world music, jazz, classical, pop. — Anita Diament

I played in rhumba bands, mickey mouse bands; all kinds of bands. — Stan Getz

If you have to ask what jazz is, you’ll never know. — Louis Armstrong

I cut myself off from the mainstream of jazz. It stood me in good stead later on, as a musician. — Dave Van Ronk

How do I know why Miles walks off the stage? Why don’t you ask him? And besides, maybe we’d all like to be like Miles, and just haven’t got the guts. — Dizzy Gillespie

Jazz is a way of life, and you have to learn about it on the street, so to speak. But the training comes in by giving you the tools to work with. — Paul Horn

I started out playing traditional jazz, and I still do: I love standards, I love the music. But it must move on, and it must live and breathe, and continue to grow, and continue to change, and continue to mesh with other music – all that kind of stuff. Jazz can be on the playground too, you know. — Robert Glasper

I think The Doors are one of the classic groups, and I think we’re all tempted to feel like the time in which we grew up was somehow special, but I really do believe that there were two golden eras in music: The Forties and Fifties of big band, jazz and swing, and the Sixties and Seventies of rock. To me, they’re really unparalleled. — Edgar Winter

The French – they like jazz, theyve been on jazz a long time. — Billy Higgins

I have to plead basic ignorance of most new jazz artists here. — Gary Lucas

Jazz music by its very nature is just a conglomerate of a lot of different kinds of music. — David Sanborn

Keith Moon is not interested in Jazz and won’t ever be a Jazz drummer because he’s more interested in looking good and being screamed at. — Pete Townshend

You don’t rehearse jazz to death to get the camera angles. — Stan Getz

Comedy is the ultimate truth. Jazz is hitting the notes that that no one else would hit, and comedy is saying words that no one else would say. — Tommy Chong

I like mellow music. I like some jazz. But I’m not a big hard rock guy. — Gary Carter

For years, Jazz At The Philharmonic albums were the only ones of their kind. — Norman Granz

Clifford Brown was in the jazz circles considered to be probably the greatest trumpet player who ever lived. — Herb Alpert

Jazz is letting everybody do his or her thing with the music. — Percy Heath

When I was a kid, I wanted desperately to be a jazz musician. I would practice the trumpet for hours, but when I got braces, that messed up my ability to play, so all of a sudden I had all this free time. — Zach Woods

I’ve been around jazz and jazz musicians most of my life. — Kenneth Rexroth

Jazz is like wine. When it is new, it is only for the experts, but when it gets older, everybody wants it. — Steve Lacy

A good quartet is like a good conversation among friends interacting to each other’s ideas. — Stan Getz

I love music, and a lot of it. Jazz is probably on the top with guys like Miles Davis. But I even enjoy music from the ’60s and ’70s. — Donovan Bailey

I actually find a lot of parallels in jazz and cartooning. — Gary Larson

Jazz tickles your muscles, symphonies stretch your soul. — Paul Whiteman

I did an instrumental jazz album. That was my first album. — Tom Curren

Amazing Quotes About Jazz from Musicians & Singers

  • Do what is in your heart, Jakie. If you sing and God is not in your voice, your father will know.
  • You should never be comfortable, man. Being comfortable fouled up a lot of musicians
  • I’ll walk a million miles for one of your smiles.
  • Jazz washes away the dust of everyday life
  • I think the music situation today has reached the point where it isn’t necessary for categories. I think what people hear in music is either agreeable to the ear or not. And if this is so, if music is agreeable to my ear, why does it have to have a category? It either sounds good or it doesn’t
  • My son came to me in my dreams, he sang “Kol Nidre” so beautifully. If he would only sing like that tonight, surely he would be forgiven.
  • Jazz music is the power of now. There is no script. It’s conversation. The emotion is given to you by musicians as they make split-second decisions to fulfil what they feel the moment requires.
  • I had spent many years pursuing excellence, because that is what classical music is all about… Now it was dedicated to freedom, and that was far more important.
  • My son was to stand at my side and sing tonight – but now I have no son.
  • Music is your own experience, your own thoughts, your wisdom. If you don’t live it, it won’t come out of your horn. They teach you there’s a boundary line to music. But, man, there’s no boundary line to art
  • We in the show business have our religion too – on every day, the show must go on!
  • I stole everything I ever heard, but mostly I stole from the horns
  • Everyone’s got to be different. You can’t copy anybody and end up with anything
  • I came home with a heart full of love, but you don’t want to understand. Some day you’ll understand, the same as Mama does.
  • There are four qualities essential to a great jazzman. they are taste, courage, individuality, and irreverence
  • There are lots of jazz singers, but you have a tear in your voice.
  • I believe in things that are developed through hard work. I always like people who have developed long and hard, especially through introspection and a lot of dedication. I think what they arrive at is usually a much deeper and more beautiful thing than the person who seems to have that ability and fluidity from the beginning. I say this because it’s a good message to give to young talents who feel as I used to