“Us Negros have created jazz. White musicians have followed us, but they haven’t reached us yet and I think they never will. Because this music is namely an expression for something that lives within us and that white men will never fully understand. The liberation from slavery explains how the jazz was born. The negro has created two kinds of music. First there are the melancholic spirituals, the folk songs from the time of slavery. And now jazz, which is a reaction, because now we dare to laugh and smile – we got human dignity.” – Louis Armstrong
Ricky Riccardi, “Heart Full of Rhythm, The Big Band Years of Louis Armstrong” (NY: Oxford Univ. Press, 2020)

Guitar Player magazine: What advice do you have for students of jazz guitar?

Jim Hall: Don’t just listen to guitar players. But if you have to listen to one, study the way Freddie Green plays rhythm with Count Basie’s band. If you pruned the tree of jazz, Freddie Green would be the only person left. In the long run, I think it’s more important to look at paintings than to listen to the way somebody plays bebop lines.

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” – Mahatma Ghandhi

“Music is an Art, the medium of which is Sound.” – George A. Wedge

“No one has more often than he flouted what is known as squareness.” – Hector Berlioz on Beethoven

“… less refined nerves require the monumental: when the sense of hearing is incapable of compelling the imagination, one must add the sense of sight.” – Arnold Schoenberg

“The most important thing I look for in a musician is whether he knows how to listen.” – Duke Ellington

“I change the way I do even the most simple things around the house periodically so I don’t get too comfortable doing it just one way, [it] helps keep my outlook fresh.” – John Carisi

“I’m a sonority nut.” – Bill Finegan

“I hate it when they call me a great big band drummer; I don’t play any different than when I’m in a !!# small group!” – Mel Lewis

“The truth is that the melodic impulse is the force out of which germinates not only harmony but also counterpoint and form. For the linear impulse is activated by motion, and motion means life, creation, propagation and formation.” – Ernst Toch

As told to me by Phil Schaap, jazz historian:

Lawrence Lucie, guitarist with Louis Armstrong, Benny Carter and Jelly Roll Morton, among many others, described the function of the FOUR piece rhythm section thusly:

  1. The bass player is in charge of 1 and 3.
  2. The guitar player is in charge of 2 and 4.
  3. The drummer is in charge of making sure that the music is swinging.
  4. The piano player is in charge of the music.
  5. The bass player & the guitar player TOGETHER are in charge of making sure the drummer doesn’t rush.

“Just because you’re not a drummer doesn’t mean you don’t have to keep time.” – Thelonius Monk

“If you want to be successful in this business, you never say no until you’re too busy to say yes.” – ‘Bones’ Howe, LA record producer

“It’s our duty to allow bluegrass music to grow and flourish, and at the same time, retain the most important part of it — that is, the essence of the sound.” – Tony Rice

“If you enjoy it, you understand it.” – Gertrude Stein

“You’ll never be out of work if you play good rhythm guitar.” – Bucky Pizzarelli

“We never really know too much, not really. We need to be humble about that. But we do get to know certain things, and we have to do the best with them. Right now, I know what I got from Coleman Hawkins, from Ben Webster, from Dexter Gordon, from Don Byas, from Charlie Parker, and all the other guys who gave their lives to this music. I know that without a doubt. From childhood, I’ve known this. All the way back then, when it was coming out of the windows, when it was on stage at the Apollo, when it was on the new records coming out. So now, after all these years, it’s pretty clear to me, finally. All I want to do is stand up for them, and for the music, and for what they inspired in me. I’m going to play as long as I can. I want to do that as long as I can pick up the horn and represent this music with honor. That’s all it’s about, as far as I can see. I don’t know anything else, but I know that.” – Sonny Rollins, conversation with Stanley Crouch (May, 2005)

“To any young drummer starting out, I should say: ‘Work on your sense of time and your feeling for the beat. That’s the most important thing in drumming and without it all the technique in the world doesn’t mean a thing.’ ” – Big Sid Catlett, interview in Music and Rhythm, April 1941
(Guitarists: substitute guitarist for drummer and playing for drumming.)

“Education is when you read the fine print. Experience is what you get when you don’t.” – Pete Seeger