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.
I have always loved jazz music and as a teen growing up in New York City and then later on as an adult have great memories of the jazz clubs that were all located on 52nd Street. I still catch as many jazz shows as I can when I am in New York. And when I perform, I have my jazz quartet by my side. Jazz musicians keep things spontaneous and very "live," which is the way I like to perform.
I visited New York in '63, intending to move there, but I noticed that what I valued about jazz was being discarded. I ran into 'out-to-lunch' free jazz, and the notion that groove was old-fashioned. All around the United States, I could see jazz becoming linear, a horn-player's world. It made me realize that we were not jazz musicians; we were territory musicians in love with all forms of African-American music. All of the musicians I loved were territory musicians, deeply into blues and gospel as well as jazz.
I grew up in a home filled with music and had an early appreciation of jazz since my dad was a jazz musician. Beginning at around age three I started singing with his band and jazz music has continued to be one of my three passions along with acting and writing. I like to say jazz music is my musical equivalent of comfort food. It's always where I go back to when I want to feel grounded,
Of course we've lost so many superstars who've made jazz what it is. We've lost so many musicians who created new things and changed the way we think about music and who took jazz to a new level. So jazz is suffering from that. But we still have a lot of incredible people playing jazz in the world. We have a lot of people leading the way.
I don't think I've ever been true to jazz. There's always a kind of jazz element to what I do. There are a very few genres that I haven't tried out, really, in what I've been doing. As a jazz musician, you can kind of mess about with things with a certain level of musicianship, which helps.
Certain music, jazz in particular, has the ability to make you a better citizen of the world. It helps you expand your world view and gives you more confidence in your cultural achievements. Improvisational jazz teaches you about yourself while the swing in jazz teaches you how to work with others
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.
Jazz sometimes can be really complicated and inaccessible to people because they don't know what to start with. You can start with something that you love, but if you start with something that you hate, then it's like, 'You know what, I hate jazz.' It took me a lot of time to catch on to jazz, too.
Cecile McLorin Salvant
In New York, I was excited about the music in New York because the only music that I was more or less involved with in the South was either country and western or hillbilly music as we used to call it when I was a kid and, ah, gospel. There was no, there was no in between. And when I got to New York all the other musics that's in the world just came into my head whether it was the classics, jazz, I never knew what jazz was about all, had heard anything about jazz.
Ben E. King
Truth of the matter is, jazz is American music. And that doesn't mean bebop. Jazz is really about improvising. All the music that's been created in America has been pretty much improvised... Whether it's hillbilly or rock n' roll for blues, it's basically jazz music... It's basically about another way of hearing what comes out of America.
I have to admit that more and more lately, the whole idea of jazz as an idiom is one that I've completely rejected. I just don't see it as an idiomatic thing any more...To me, if jazz is anything, it's a process, and maybe a verb, but it's not a thing. It's a form that demands that you bring to it things athat are valuable to you, that are personal to you. That, for me, is a pretty serious distinction that doesn't have anything to do with blues, or swing, or any of these other things that tend to be listed as essentials in order for music to be jazz with a capital J.
I've always felt that most jazz artists don't need producers .. most jazz artists know what kind of sound they want. They don't need a producer to come in there and tell them, "Oh, I think you should do this." I've always found it very strange that there's been such a thing as producers in jazz.
I worry more about the marketing that's taken hold since the 70s. The Jazz era, the Swing era, those were huge. Entire decades were named for music. In the 1940s - after World War II - changes in taxation, ballrooms closing, people moving to the suburbs, and the onset of target marketing and the confusion of commerce with art caused some things to happen as a result that have taken us away from jazz and what jazz offers us.
I haven't got a great jazz band and I don't want one. Some of the critics, Down Beat's among them, point their fingers at us and charge us with forsaking real jazz . . . It's all in what you define as 'real jazz.' It happens that to our ears harmony comes first. A dozen colored bands have a better beat than mine. Our band stresses harmony.