LEONARD BERNSTEIN ON JAZZ:
"Jazz covers a multitude of sounds, all the way from the earliest Blues to Dixieland bands, to Charleston bands, to Swing bands, to Boogie-Woogie, to crazy Bop, to Mambo--and much more. It is all jazz, and I love it because it is an original kind of emotional expression, in that it is never wholly sad or wholly happy. Even the Blues has a robustness and hard-boiled quality that never lets it become sticky-sentimental, no matter how self-pitying the words are . . .
"I also love it for its humor. It really plays with notes. We always speak of 'playing' music: we play Brahms or we play Bach--a term perhaps more properly applied to tennis. But jazz is real play. It 'fools around' with notes, so to speak. It is, therefore, entertainment in the truest sense.
"But I find I have to defend jazz to those who say it is low-class. As a matter of fact, all music has low-class origins, since it comes from folk music, which is necessarily earthy. After all, Haydn minuets are only a refinement of simple, rustic German dances, and so are Beethoven scherzos. An aria from a Verdi opera can often be traced back to the Neopolitan fisherman. Besides, there has always been a certain amount of indignity, particularly around the players of music.
"I suppose it is due to the fact that historically players of music seem to lack the dignity of composers of music. But this is especially true of jazz, which is almost completely a player's art, depending as it does on improvisation rather than composition. But this also means that the player of jazz is himself the real composer, which gives him a creative, and therefore more dignified, status.