In Europe they look upon jazz as art. In America it’s a diversion. Somebody opens a restaurant and installs another band off to the side. People don’t listen.
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I just think swing is a matter of some good things put together that you can really pat your foot by. I can’t define it beyond that.
I asked my mother could I have an instrument. She said, ‘Well if you go out and save your money.’ So I went and got – I made me a shine box. I went out and started shining shoes, and I’d bring whatever I made.
Whenever I fill out the job description I put ‘songwriter’, never ‘singer’ or ‘artist.’ Singers come and go.
Its performing without any really set basis for the lines and the content as such emotionally or, specifically, musically. And if you sit down and contemplate what youre going to do, and take five hours to write five minutes of music, then its composed music. Therefore I would put it in the classical or serious, whatever you want to call it, written-music category. So theres composed music and theres jazz. And to me anybody that makes music using the process that we are using in Jazz, is playing Jazz.
I, myself, came to enjoy the players who didn’t only just swing but who invented new rhythmic patterns, along with new melodic concepts. And those people are: Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Max Roach, Sonny Rollins, Lester Young, Dizzy Gillespie and Charles Parker, who is the greatest genius of all to me because he changed the whole era around.