Famous Quotes & Sayings

Duke Ellington Quotes & Sayings

Enjoy the top 82 famous quotes, sayings and quotations by Duke Ellington.

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Duke Ellington Quotes 1400589

I merely took the energy it takes to pout and wrote some blues. — Duke Ellington

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It doesn't mean a thing if you ain't got that swing — Duke Ellington

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Selfishness can be a virtue. Selfishness is essential to survival, and without survival we cannot protect those whom we love more than ourselves. — Duke Ellington

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Somehow I suspect that if Shakespeare were alive today, he might be a jazz fan himself. — Duke Ellington

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A problem is a chance for you to do your best. — Duke Ellington

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I don't believe in categories of any kind, and when you speak of problems between blacks and whites in the U.S.A. you are referring to categories again. — Duke Ellington

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Tomorrow is in the wings waiting for you to sound her entrance fanfare. — Duke Ellington

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Art is dangerous. It is one of the attractions: when it ceases to be dangerous you don't want it. — Duke Ellington

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There is no art when one does something without intention. — Duke Ellington

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Music, of course, is what I hear and something that I more or less live by. It's not an occupation or profession, it's a compulsion. — Duke Ellington

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I fluffed off the guy who kept requesting tunes all night, then found out he was the King's son. — Duke Ellington

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Jazz today, as always in the past, is a matter of thoughtful creation, not mere unaided instinct. — Duke Ellington

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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. — Duke Ellington

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There are 2 rules in life:
Number 1- Never quit
Number2- Never forget rule number 1.
Duke Ellington

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If it sounds good and feels good, then it IS good! — Duke Ellington

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I don't need time, I need a deadline. — Duke Ellington

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His greatest virtue, I think, was his honesty--not only to others but to himself...He demanded freedom of expression and lived in what we consider the most important of moral freedoms; freedom from hate, unconditionally; freedom from all self-pity (even throughout all the pain and bad news); freedom from fear of possibly doing something that might help another more than it might help himself; and freedom from that kind of pride that could make a man feel he was better than his brother or neighbor — Duke Ellington

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A goal is a dream with a finish line. — Duke Ellington

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Roaming through the jungle of "Ohs" and "Ahs" searching for a more agreeable noise, I live a life of primitivity with the mind of a child and an unquenchable thirst for sharps and flats. — Duke Ellington

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I don't need time. What I need is a deadline! — Duke Ellington

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There is nothing to keeping a band together. You simply have to have a gimmick, and the gimmick I use is to pay them money! — Duke Ellington

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San Francisco is one of the great cultural plateaus of the world - one of the really urbane communities in the United States - one of the truly cosmopolitan places and for many, many years, it always has had a warm welcome for human beings from all over the world — Duke Ellington

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You have to stop listening in categories. The music is either good or it's bad. — Duke Ellington

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New music? Hell, there's been no new music since Stravinsky. — Duke Ellington

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The problem of expressing the contributions that Benny Carter has made to popular music is so tremendous it completely fazes me, so extraordinary a musician is he. — Duke Ellington

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New York is a place where the rich walk, the poor drive Cadillac's, and the beggars die of malnutrition with thousands of dollars hidden in their mattresses. — Duke Ellington

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You've got to find a way of saying it without saying it. — Duke Ellington

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Without a deadline, baby, I wouldn't do nothing. — Duke Ellington

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Simplicity is a most complex form — Duke Ellington

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If you have a great band with a mediocre drummer, you have a mediocre band. If you have a mediocre band with a great drummer, you have a great band! — Duke Ellington

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Jazz is a good barometer of freedom. — Duke Ellington

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Dancing is very important to people who play music with a beat. I think that people who don't dance, or who never did dance, don't really understand the beat ... I know musicians who don't and never did dance, and they have difficulty communicating. — Duke Ellington

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If it sounds good, it IS good. — Duke Ellington

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Music is my mistress, and she plays second fiddle to no one. — Duke Ellington

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There are two kinds of worries - those you can do something about and those you can't. Don't spend any time on the latter. — Duke Ellington

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Self-discipline, as a virtue or an acquired asset, can be invaluable to anyone. — Duke Ellington

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If anybody was Mr. Jazz it was Louis Armstrong. He was the epitome of jazz and always will be. He is what I call an American standard, an American original. — Duke Ellington

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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 — Duke Ellington

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

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

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My biggest kick in music -playing or writing- is when I have a problem. Without a problem to solve, how much interest do you take in anything? — Duke Ellington

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What does music mean to you? What would you do without music? — Duke Ellington

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The common root, of course, comes out of Africa. That's the pulse.The African pulse. It's all the way back from ... the old slave chants and up through the blues, the jazz, and up through rock. And it's all got the African pulse. — Duke Ellington

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Sing sweet, but put a little dirt in it. — Duke Ellington

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You've got to find some way of saying it without saying it. — Duke Ellington

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

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Hurry, get on board, it's comin', listen to those rails a-thrumming all aboard. Get on the "A" train, soon you will be on Sugar Hill in Harlem. — Duke Ellington

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It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing. — Duke Ellington

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Fate is being kind to me. Fate doesn't want me to be too famous too young. — Duke Ellington

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The wise musicians are those who play what they can master. — Duke Ellington

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I began by tinkering around with some old tunes I knew. Then, just to try something different, I set to putting some music to the rhythm that I used in jerking ice-cream sodas at the Poodle Dog. I fooled around with the tune more and more until at last, lo and behold, I had completed my first piece of finished music. — Duke Ellington

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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. — Duke Ellington

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My mother told me I was blessed, and I have always taken her word for it. Being born of - or reincarnated from - royalty is nothing Like being blessed. Royalty is inherited from another
human being; blessedness comes from God. — Duke Ellington

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Critics have their purposes, 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 they did. — Duke Ellington

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You can't write music right unless you know how the man that'll play it plays poker. — Duke Ellington

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Playing 'bop' is like playing Scrabble with all the vowels missing. — Duke Ellington

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Now I can say loudly and openly what I have been saying to myself on my knees. — Duke Ellington

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How can anyone expect to be understood unless he presents his thoughts with complete honesty? This situation is unfair because it asks too much of the world. In effect, we say, ' I don't dare show you what I am because I don't trust you for a minute but please love me anyway because I so need you to. And, of course, if you don't love me anyway, you're a dirty dog, just as I suspected, so I was right in the first place.' Yet, every time God's children have thrown away fear in pursuit of honesty-trying to communicate themselves, understood or not, miracles have happened. — Duke Ellington

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The artist must say it without saying it. — Duke Ellington

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Everybody in Canada seemed to listen to what they enjoyed, and nobody could tell them what to like, or what was the popular, or what was the In thing. Even today, it is very hard to brainwash a Canadian. — Duke Ellington

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Be a number one yourself. And not a number two somebody else. — Duke Ellington

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There is hardly any money interest in art, and music will be there when money is gone. — Duke Ellington

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Every man prays in his own language. — Duke Ellington

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Create, and be true to yourself, and depend only on your own good taste. — Duke Ellington

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The Europeans who went to Africa came back with modern' art. What is more African than a Picasso? — Duke Ellington

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Music is the tonal reflection of beauty. — Duke Ellington

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In music, as you develop a theme or musical idea, there are many points at which directions must be decided, and at any time I was in the throes of debate with myself, harmonically or melodically, I would turn to Billy Strayhorn. We would talk, and then the whole world would come into focus. The steady hand of his good judgment pointed to the clear way that was fitting for us. He was not, as he was often referred to by many, my alter ego. Billy Strayhorn was my right arm, my left arm, all the eyes in the back of my head, my brainwaves in his head, and his in mine. — Duke Ellington

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Everyone prays in their own language, and there is no language that God does not understand. — Duke Ellington

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I like any and all of my associations with music -writing, playing, and listening. We write and play from our perspective, and the audience listens from its perspective. If and when we agree, I am lucky. — Duke Ellington

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There is no art without intention. — Duke Ellington

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Critics get a little carried away with what someone should have done, rather than what he did. — Duke Ellington

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Of the One O'Clock Lab Band after hearing their performance, and sitting in with them at the White House: "I wish it were mine". — Duke Ellington

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On becoming more acquainted with the word of the Bible, I began to understand so much more of what I had been taught, and of what I had learned about life and about the people in mine. — Duke Ellington

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I never had much interest in the piano until I realized that every time I played, a girl would appear on the piano bench to my left and another to my right. — Duke Ellington

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People do not retire. They are retired by others. — Duke Ellington

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There are simply two kinds of music, good music and the other kind ... the only yardstick by which the result should be judged is simply that of how it sounds. If it sounds good it's successful; if it doesn't it has failed. — Duke Ellington

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Problems are chances for us to do our best. — Duke Ellington

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My attitude is never to be satisfied, never enough, never. — Duke Ellington

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It's like an act of murder; you play with intent to commit something. — Duke Ellington

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The word [jazz] never lost its association with those New Orleans bordellos. In the 1920s I used to try to convince Fletcher Henderson that we ought to call what we were doing 'Negro music'. But it's too late for that now. — Duke Ellington

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Love is supreme and unconditional. Like is nice, but limited. — Duke Ellington

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A Satin Doll is a woman who is as pretty on the inside as she is on the outside. — Duke Ellington