Miles Davis Quotes: The Jazz Icon In His Own Words

Miles Davis

Standing tall among the greatest jazz trumpeters in history, Miles Davis was never afraid to speak his mind. The best Miles Davis quotes offer astute observations on music – his own, and that of the wider jazz world. He could be controversial and challenging, but was, above all, engaging and inspiring.

These Miles Davis quotes offer invaluable insights into the life and art of The Dark Magus.

1

“The thing to judge in any jazz artist is, does the man project and does he have ideas.”

2

“A legend is an old man with a cane known for what he used to do. I’m still doing it.”

3

“I’ll play it first and tell you what it is later.”

4

“Do not fear mistakes. There are none.”

5

“Don’t play what’s there, play what’s not there.”

6

“It’s not about standing still and becoming safe. If anybody wants to keep creating they have to be about change.”

7

“Anybody can play. The note is only 20%. The attitude of the mother****er who plays it is 80 percent.”

8

“If you sacrifice your art because of some woman, or some man, or for some color, or for some wealth, you can’t be trusted.”

9

“I always listen to what I can leave out.”

10

“For me, music and life are all about style.”

11

“If you don’t know what to play, play nothing.”

12

“If you got up on the bandstand at Minton’s and couldn’t play, you were not only going to be embarrassed by the people ignoring you or booing you, you might get your ass kicked.”

13

“Jazz is the big brother of Revolution. Revolution follows it around.”

14

“I don’t care if a dude is purple with green breath as long as he can swing.”

15

“You know why I quit playing ballads? Cause I love playing ballads.”

16

“Always look ahead, but never look back.”

17

“I don’t like to hear someone put down Dixieland. Those people who say there’s no music but bop are just stupid; it shows how much they don’t know.”

18

“At least one day out of the year all musicians should just put their instruments down, and give thanks to Duke Ellington.”

19

“Sometimes you have to play a long time to be able to play like yourself.”

20

“If you understood everything I say, you’d be me!”

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