Duke’s Place

There is a lot to say about Duke Ellington, who would turn 127 today, but he said most of it better himself:

By and large, jazz has always been like the kind of a man you wouldn’t want your daughter to associate with.

  • I’m sure critics have their purpose, and they’re supposed to do what they do, but sometimes they get a little carried away with what they think someone should have done, rather than concerning themselves with what he did.


    Put it this way: Jazz is a good barometer of freedom… In its beginnings, the United States of America spawned certain ideals of freedom and independence through which, eventually, jazz was evolved, and the music is so free that many people say it is the only unhampered, unhindered expression of complete freedom yet produced in this country.

    There are two kinds of music. Good music, and the other kind.

  • I merely took the energy it takes to pout and wrote some blues.

  • Love is indescribable and unconditional. I could tell you a thousand things that it is not, but not one that it is. Either you have it or you haven’t; there’s no proof of it.

  • Playing ‘bop’ is like playing Scrabble with all the vowels missing.

  • If it sounds good and feels good, then it IS good!

  • Music is my mistress and she plays second fiddle to no one.

  • Gray skies are just clouds passing over.

  • The most important thing I look for in a musician is whether he knows how to listen.

  • What is music to you? What would you be without music? Music is everything. Nature is music (cicadas in the tropical night). The sea is music, the wind is music. The rain drumming on the roof and the storm raging in the sky are music. Music is the oldest entity. The scope of music is immense and infinite. It is the ‘esperanto’ of the world.

  • It is becoming increasingly difficult to decide where jazz starts or where it stops, where Tin Pan Alley begins and jazz ends, or even where the borderline lies between between classical music and jazz. I feel there is no boundary line.

  • There is no art without intention.

  • It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing.

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