John Dankworth

British musician (1927-2010)

Sir John Phillip William Dankworth, CBE (20 September 19276 February 2010) was an English jazz composer, saxophonist and clarinetist.



  • It is not governed by the senseless world of current style that pervades and pollutes popular music, nor is it part of an established hierarchy, so that it is cloistered and protected.
    • Of jazz. Jazz in Revolution (1998).
  • Jazz today can be spiritual, cerebral, motivating or moving. It can evoke tension, relaxation, laughter, tears. Surely jazz is truly the music of the era, combining stature, dignity and emotion with the highest musical ideals.
    • Jazz in Revolution (1998), concluding words.
  • Forget the word youth – this is one of the best bands you'll ever hear.
  • The hardest thing to do is to swing quietly, with control and restraint. Lots of bands swing loudly. I refuse to let my band play loudly in order to try to swing when it isn’t swinging softly. I think that the best jazz in the long run is the jazz that is controlled and will swing on its own terms.
  • I have never looked like being in that incredible virtuoso class like, say, Stan Getz. I think people made a mistake and put me in that embryonic class when I was very young and thought that I was going to branch out to be a big instrumentalist in some way or another. But I always find that I very, very seldom get anywhere near what I consider a satisfactory standard. I would much rather be judged for my writing because writing is a thing that you can have second thoughts about and, if it isn’t right, you can’t blame somebody else but yourself.


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