Quotes for Quarantine: from Plato to Pops

“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, a charm to sadness and gaiety and life to everything.” – Plato

“There’s nothing like walking out and watching the people get turned on. Nothing in the world could replace it.” – Louis Prima

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“At a time when individualism is becoming an endangered species, jazz represents a celebration of the individual.” – Ellis Marsalis

“In other places, culture comes down from on high. In New Orleans it bubbles up from the streets.” – Ellis Marsalis

“Musicians are some of the most driven, courageous people on the face of the earth. They deal with more day-to-day rejection in one year than most people do in a lifetime. Every day, they face the financial challenge of living a freelance lifestyle, the disrespect of people who think they should get real jobs, and their own fear that they’ll never work again. Every day, they have to ignore the possibility that this vision they have dedicated their lives to is a pipe dream. With every note, they stretch themselves, emotionally and physically, risking criticism and judgment. With every passing year, many of them watch as the other people their age achieve the predictable milestones of normal life—the car, the family, the house, the nest egg. Why? Because musicians are willing to give their entire lives to a moment—to that melody, that lyric, that chord, or that interpretation that will stir the audience’s soul. Musicians are beings who have tasted life’s nectar in that crystal moment when they poured out their creative spirit and touched another’s heart, in that instant, they were as close to magic, God, and perfection as anyone could be. And in their own hearts, they know that to dedicate oneself to that moment is worth a thousand lifetimes.” – David Ackert, LA Times

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“That this city has second lines—it’s something I’m proud of. When the bands come back from the cemetery, they’ll play something up—something like ‘I’ll Be Glad When You’re Dead (You Rascal You)’ —that will bring the people back to life.” – Dr. John

“One of my pleasantest memories as a kid growing up in New Orleans was how a bunch of us kids, playing, would suddenly hear sounds. It was like a phenomenon, like the Aurora Borealis—maybe. The sounds of men playing would be so clear, but we wouldn’t be sure where they were coming from. So we’d start trotting, start running—‘It’s this way! It’s this way!’—And sometimes, after running for a while, you’d find you’d be nowhere near that music. But that music could come on you any time like that. The city was full of the sounds of music.” – Danny Barker

“If I had grown up in any place but New Orleans, I don’t think my career would have taken off. I wouldn’t have heard the music that was around this town. There was so much going on when I was a kid.” – Pete Fountain

“Rejoice at the death and cry at the birth: New Orleans sticks close to the Scriptures.” – Jelly Roll Morton

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“Well, the city is a very unique city, it’s a rock and roll city, and it’s a jazz city, as well as a rhythm and blues city. It’s a musical palette; New Orleans is, to me, the capital of music. I’ve always respected it as that, and always will.” – Little Richard

“It has to be put inside you and you have to be ready to have it put there. All that happens to you makes a feeling out of your life and you play that feeling. But there’s more than that. There’s the feeling inside the music too. And the final thing, it’s the way those two feelings come together.” – Sidney Bechet on Improvisation

“Music is the language of some other state, born of memory. For what can wake the soul’s strong instinct of some other world like music?” – Letitia Elizabeth Landon

“I enjoy playing for people that are happy. I like to see people happy. If everybody is in a frisky spirit, the spirit gets to me and I can make my trombone sing. If my music makes people happy, I will try to do more. It is a challenge to me. I always want people around me. It gives me a warm heart and that gets into my music. When I play sweet music, I try to give my feelings to the other fellow. That’s always in my mind. Everyone in the world should know this. If we really love our music, we would be more happy and friendly. Just keep living and loving your music and keep no evil in your heart.” – Jim Robinson

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“Music washes away the dust of everyday life.” – Art Blakey (similar attributed to Berthold Auerbach)

Quotes for Quarantine: from Plato to PopsQuotes About Louis Armstrong:

“What he does is real, and true, and honest, and simple, and even noble. Every time this man puts his trumpet to his lips, even if only to practice three notes, he does it with his whole soul.” –Leonard Bernstein

“If you don’t like Louis Armstrong, you don’t know how to love.” – Mahalia Jackson

“Louis Armstrong is the master of the jazz solo. He became the beacon, the light in the tower that helped the rest of us navigate the tricky waters of jazz improvisation.” – Ellis Marsalis

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“He’s the father of us all, regardless of style or how modern we get. His influence is inescapable. Some of the things he was doing in the ’20s and ’30s, people still haven’t dealt with.” – Armstrong disciple Nicholas Payton

“Armstrong is to music what Einstein is to physics and the Wright Brothers are to travel.” – Jazz documentary producer Ken Burns

“It’s America’s classical music … this becomes our tradition … the bottom line of any country in the world is what did we contribute to the world? … We contributed Louis Armstrong.” – Tony Bennett

“If anybody was Mr. Jazz it was Louis Armstrong. He was the epitome of jazz and always will be. He is what I call an American standard, an American original.” – Duke Ellington

“He left an undying testimony to the human condition in the America of his time.” – Wynton Marsalis

“You can’t play anything on a horn that Louis hasn’t played.” – Miles Davis

“I’m proud to acknowledge my debt to the ‘Reverend Satchelmouth’ … He is the beginning and the end of music in America.” – Bing Crosby

“.. Armstrong’s improvisational verve and technical virtuosity defined jazz … and his engaging personality and ever-present grin made him a natural as the international ambassador of jazz, America’s greatest gift to the world.” – Life Magazine, “100 People Who Made the Millennium”

“The extent of his influence across jazz, across American music, and around the world has such continuing stature that he is one of the few who can easily be mentioned with Stravinsky, Picasso, and Joyce. His life was the embodiment of one who moves from rags to riches, from anonymity to internationally imitated innovator. Louis Daniel Armstrong supplied revolutionary language that took on such pervasiveness that it became commonplace, like the light bulb, the airplane, the telephone.” – Stanley Crouch, Time Magazine, June 8, 1998

Quotes by Louis Armstrong:

“If you have to ask what jazz is, you’ll never know.”

“Man, all music is folk music. You ain’t never heard no horse sing a song, have you?”

“If I don’t practice for a day, I know it. If I don’t practice for two days, the critics know it. And if I don’t practice for three days, the public knows it.” (similar attributed to Franz Liszt, Ignacy Jan Paderewski, Jascha Heifetz, Vladimir Horowitz, etc.)

“If ya ain’t got it in ya, ya can’t blow it out.”

“Musicians don’t retire; they stop when there’s no more music in them.”

“There is two kinds of music, the good, and the bad. I play the good kind.” (similar attributed to Duke Ellington)

“You blows who you is.”

“There are some people that if they don’t know, you can’t tell them.”

“We all do ‘do, re, mi,’ but you have got to find the other notes yourself.”

“The memory of things gone is important to a jazz musician. Things like old folks singing in the moonlight in the back yard on a hot night or something said long ago.”

“My whole life, my whole soul, my whole spirit is to blow that horn…”

“Seems to me it ain’t the world that’s so bad but what we’re doing to it, and all I’m saying is: see what a wonderful world it would be if only we’d give it a chance. Love, baby—love. That’s the secret.”

“What we play is life.”

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