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.     


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.     


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