I once took a ride to the beach in L.A., and all along the shore there were all these so-called jazz places. And I saw these college guys and session players playing this fusion Muzak stuff. It was just a lot of notes, and the more notes they played, the more it kept them from expressing anything. So I came back home and got out my Zeppelin albums.
Jazz, to me, is one of the inherent expressions of Negro life in America: the eternal tom-tom beating in the Negro soul - the tom-tom of revolt against weariness in a white world, a world of subway trains, and work, work, work; the tom-tom of joy and laughter, and pain swallowed in a smile.
Cultures have long heard wisdom in non-human voices: Apollo, god of music, medicine and knowledge, came to Delphi in the form of a dolphin. But dolphins, which fill the oceans with blipping and chirping, and whales, which mew and caw in ultramarine jazz - a true rhapsody in blue - are hunted to the edge of silence.
Jazz music is America's past and its potential, summed up and sanctified and accessible to anybody who learns to listen to, feel, and understand it. The music can connect us to our earlier selves and to our better selves-to-come. It can remind us of where we fit on the time line of human achievement, an ultimate value of art.