Giants of Jazz Notes

Notes of mine from the Studs Terkel book, Giants of Jazz. 

Joe Oliver: hard not to look at him as a cautionary tale.  People took his ideas and took them to places before he could.   He became contempt with situations. The one positive is that he tried to have his horn resemble the human voice, and people resonated with that resemblement. People always resonate with humanity- be it a horn, a picture, a powerpoint.  Resemble humanity.

Louis Armstrong: Never worried about the words of a song- it’s the feeling that mattered.  The tone.  Whatever he was feeling is what he did.  And the words weren’t as important as the tone they were said with. The tone.  The feeling.  And being influenced by the city.  Makes me want to move to SF.

Duke Ellington: The rhythm of life. Putting tunes to everything that happens in life.  Life is music. You just have to let out the tune.

Bessie Smith: Make one line last a staircase.  In blues, you have your best line, your best word, and make sure everyone feels it. In business, make an idea last a staircase and keep repeating it until everyone feels it.

Fats Waller: Created 10,000 pieces of music in 38 years.  Never stopped learning, never stopped creating.  Creating something new each day is manageable if you’re creating stuff you love or are curious about.

Benny Goodman: Patience, Endurance, Talent wins.  Benny was at it for 5 years, had lots of doubt along the way, and like we see with so many who are pursuing their passion, broke through just when they had nothing left.

Count Bassie: The small things that no one notices except in the end result. “He ain’t playing nothing, but it sure sounds good.” It’s the little things that make the difference. The distinctions. It’s what’s made Count’s music great, Starbucks coffee good.  The little things.

Billie Holliday: Not being afraid to knock on doors when you know you’ve got something unique to offer.

Woody Herman: Relax, have fun, because that’s the only way to express yourself. Especially with jazz music. You can’t swing when you’re stiff.

Dizzy Gillespie: Experimentation leads to innovation- whether that experimentation is with your appearance, or your music.  Constantly experimenting teaches you new things.

Charlie Parker: Drugs and distractions shorten the amount of time and talent you spend on what you’re good at.

The success of these individuals can be attributed to the people they hang with, played with, and lived with.  Networking and location are huge determinants of success.

Johnny Coltrane: Learned through younger, lesser known musicians.  If you don’t live it, it won’t come out in your horn.

Jazz is a long link that continues to add to itself.

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