Jazz is a music genre that originated in the African-American communities of New Orleans, United States. It originated in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and developed from roots in blues and ragtime. Since the 1920s Jazz Age, jazz has become recognized as a major form of musical expression. It then emerged in the form of independent traditional and popular musical styles, all linked by the common bonds of African-American and European-American musical parentage with a performance orientation. Jazz is characterized by swing and blue notes, call and response vocals, polyrhythms and improvisation. Jazz has roots in West African cultural and musical expression, and in African-American music traditions including blues and ragtime, as well as European military band music.
- Jazz is the false liquidation of art—instead of utopia becoming reality it disappears from the picture.
- Theodor Adorno, as quoted in The Sociology of Rock (1978), by Simon Frith
- If you have to ask, you'll never know.
- Louis Armstrong, when asked to define the rhythmic concept of "swing", as quoted in Jazz 101: A Complete Guide to Learning and Loving Jazz (2000), by John F. Szwed
- Jazz, often called America's classical music, so influenced our culture that Americans named a decade after it. Like the country of its birth, jazz blends many traditions, such as African-American folk, rhythm and blues, French Creole classical form, and gospel. Through the creation and performance of music like jazz, black Americans were better able to exchange ideas freely across racial and cultural barriers.
- When people hear the word "jazzman," the first thing they think is unemployed, then dope and sex, but the young guys aren't like that anymore. I'd like a girl to be able to take me home and introduce me to her parents and hear them say, "Oh, a jazzman. Isn't that fine."
- Marion Brown, "The New Jazz," Newsweek (December 12, 1966), p. 108
- When they study our civilization two thousand years from now, there will only be three things that Americans will be known for: the Constitution, baseball and jazz music. They're the three most beautiful things Americans have ever created.
- Gerald Early, as quoted in Baseball: The Players, The World Series, The Records (2008), by Ron Martirano, p. 7,864
- By and large, jazz has always been like the kind of a man you wouldn't want your daughter to associate with.
- Duke Ellington, as quoted in "History of Hymns: 'Come Sunday' reflects Duke Ellington’s faith & sacred jazz tradition", by C. Michael Hawn, Discipleship Ministries, The United Methodist Church
- Well, feel something in B-flat, motherfucker.
- Frank Foster, responding to a subpar sideman's explanation that he was "just playing what I feel"; as quoted in Moving to Higher Ground: How Jazz Can Change Your Life (2008) by Wynton Marsalis with Geoffrey C. Ward, p. 44
- There is a view that jazz is "evil" because it comes from evil people, but actually the greatest priests on 52nd Street and on the streets of New York City were the musicians. They were doing the greatest healing work. They knew how to punch through music that would cure and make people feel good.
- I want to be considered a jazz poet blowing a long blues in an afternoon jam session on Sunday. I take 242 choruses; my ideas vary and sometimes roll from chorus to chorus or from halfway through a chorus to halfway into the next.
- Jack Kerouac, Mexico City Blues (1959)
- Jazz is something Negroes invented, and it said the most profound things—not only about us and the way we look at things, but about what modern democratic life is really about. It is the nobility of the race put into sound … jazz has all the elements, from the spare and penetrating to the complex and enveloping. It is the hardest music to play that I know of, and it is the highest rendition of individual emotion in the history of Western music.
- Wynton Marsalis, as quoted in Jet (1985), Volume 69, Issues 14-26, p. 172
- Jazz is not a "form" but a collection of tags and tricks.
- Ernest Newman, "The World of Music" (4 September 1927), The Sunday Times
- Music is a journey. Jazz is getting lost.
- John O'Farrell, The Best a Man Can Get (1999)
- [T]he Negroes invented [Jazz] to satisfy their primitive inclinations, as well as their desire to be noisy on the one hand and to excite bestial tendencies on the other.
- Sayyid Qutb, as quoted in Radical: My Journey out of Islamist Extremism (2016), by Maajid Nawaz and Tom Bromley, Connecticut: Rowman & Littlefield, p. xxi
- What makes the performance is the dialogue created between you and everybody around you spontaneously. And you have to interact with everybody up there, interacting and reacting, throwing out ideas. Jazz is a purely democratic music. It's collective creativity where somebody introduces something and we all get a chance to say something about it. It always amazes me, the whole of it is just a great spirit. It grabs you to the point where it never lets you go until the very last breath.
- Max Roach, as quoted in "Jazz Score: First Set" (5 May 2008), Film Score Monthly Online, Vol. 13, Issue 5
- Jazz has got to retain its integrity, its spirituality. It's got to mean something. That's No. 1. There are a lot of great players thinking that way in the music. It's all good. I don't think we should lament the fact that, Oh, we can't play in the clubs anymore. That's passing. We'll be able to, as musicians, play serious jazz. I think that will prevail. I can't prophesize, but I have a strong intuitive feeling that it will be stronger than ever and have another shot at trying to turn this world around.
- Sonny Rollins, in "Sonny Rollins on the Pandemic, Protests and Music" by Daniel King, in The New Yorker (June 11, 2020)
- Jazz is not dead, it just smells funny.
- Frank Zappa, "Be-Bop Tango" (1973)