One of the reasons I believe in jazz is that the oneness of man can come through the rhythm of your heart. It’s the same anyplace in the world, that heartbeat. It’s the first thing you hear when you’re born — or before you’re born — and it’s the last thing you hear.
There's a way of playing safe, there's a way of using tricks and there's the way I like to play which is dangerously where you're going to take a chance on making mistakes in order to create something you haven't created before.
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.
Damn it, when I'm bombastic, I have my reasons. I want to be bombastic-take it or leave it.
It's like a whole orchestra, the piano for me.
Jazz is about the only form of art existing today in which there is freedom of the individual without the loss of group contact.
I wasn't allowed to play in some universities in the United States and out of twenty-five concerts, twenty-three were canceled unless I would substitute my black bass player for my old white bass player, which I wouldn't do.
We don't know the power that's within our own bodies
I'm always hoping for the nights that are inspired where you almost have an out of body experience
Jazz is about freedom within discipline.
And there is a time where you can be beyond yourself. You can be better than your technique. You can be better than most of your usual ideas. And this is a whole other category that you can get into.
Probably the most profound thing in the Bible is 'Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.' This is what, to me, is the essence of Christianity.
Many people don't understand how disciplined you have to be to play jazz... And that is really the idea of democracy - freedom within the Constitution or discipline. You don't just get out there and do anything you want.
Jazz is about freedom within discipline. Usually a dictatorship like in Russia and Germany will prevent jazz from being played because it just seemed to represent freedom, democracy and the United States.
I was always very aware of drummers. My oldest brother Henry was a drummer, and he drummed on everything in the house from the kitchen sink to stovepipes. He was the first drummer in the Gil Evans Orchestra, so you've got to know how great he was.
I have more energy at the end than I do at the beginning. You can be so beat up that you can scarcely walk on stage but when you get to the piano the excitement kicks in, you forget about being tired.
Every individual should be expressing themselves, whether a politician or a minister or a policeman.
The worst thing about the life of a jazz musician on the road is getting to the gig. Once you're there and playing, it's marvelous.
I prefer no one to teach me. I prefer to swing on my own.
I had the first integrated Army band in World War II.
I’m beginning to understand myself. But it would have been great to be able to understand myself when I was 20 rather than when I was 82.
Do you think Duke Ellington didn't listen to Debussy? Louis Armstrong loved opera, did you know that? Name me a jazz pianist who wasn't influenced by European music!
Your mother’s heartbeat is the first sound you ever hear and your own heartbeat is the last.
You have to be taught to hate.
When I was first aware that I couldn't read music I didn't know I couldn't read because I could play the music that was in front of me.
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