It was 100 percent music. There was no ego involved, no attitudes, no black and white, it was pure music.
Many people do think it’s naive to improvise in front of paying customers. I’m not saying one way is better than another.
Most jazz players work out their solos, at least to the extent that they have a very specific vocabulary.
Bernstein grew up in my building in New York. He’s a very, very fine player. When he was a kid, he came by to find out what was going on in the world of jazz.
I could stop and say, Well that was a D minor, G seven, but I really don’t want to know that. I just want to know that there’s a combination of notes that makes a sound.
In some ways Lester Young is the most complex rhythmically of any musician. He does some things which are just phenomenal.
I understood that if I wanted to work, the saxophone was the main instrument. The clarinet was what we call a double.
Labels don’t mean anything to me. I’m trying to play as passionately as I’m able to. If they want to call that cool, that’s fine. Just spell the name right, is the formula.
I have been able to get a small audience. It’s not the huge audience, but it’s enough to make it possible to play. I appreciate that.
I just completed a tour in Europe. I played every night. This requires traveling some days for six hours in a van or a train or a car. After six weeks of that, I checked into the hotel and just fell apart.
You just keep playing. If someone special comes along and organizes it in a new way, then you’ll have another approach and everybody will jump on it to try to learn.
After playing now for 60 years, it’s still very challenging for me to play a simple melody and have it clean and touch the reed at the proper time in the proper way.