Quotation by Henry Pleasants

The jazz musician is denied the dignity accorded the composer because not everything he composes is first written down, or, necessarily, written down afterward, or, once written down, considered immutable. And he is denied the dignity accorded the Serious-music performer because the latter is an "interpreter" of presumably great music. The musician, in other words, who makes up his music as he goes along, or makes up a good deal of it, or who rarely plays the same music twice in the same way, is, we are given to understand, inferior to the musician who makes no music of his own. For all his undisputed virtuosity and inventive fancy, the jazz musician cannot, we are led to believe, be granted equality with the Serious musician who can read and play the notes written down for him by Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms and Wagner a century or so ago.
Henry Pleasants (b. 1910), U.S. music critic. "A Performer's Art," Serious MusicAnd All That Jazz, Simon & Schuster (1969).
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