We need to move into a culture of peace. What I hope to promote is the idea that we all need each other and that the greatest happiness in life is not how much we have but how much we give. That's a wealth that's priceless. You can't buy compassion.
When a human being is oppressed, the natural tendency is to feel anger. Jazz is a response to oppression that is not bullets and blood. Jazz is the expression of harmony ... and at the same time of hope and freedom.
Being vulnerable is allowing yourself to trust. That's hard for a lot of people to do. They feel a lot more secure if they kind of put walls around themselves. Then they don't have to trust anybody but themselves. But to allow you to trust not only yourself but trust others means - is what's required to be vulnerable, and to have that kind of trust takes courage.
It might be something as simple as saying the right word to the right person at the right time-and that could change the course of history. You never really know. But the whole thing is to work at the process of being in sync with the universe, so that everything will align at the proper time so that you can deliver that which is your life mission. And that's why we're here as individuals. And then there's our contribution to the collective. It makes a lot of sense, doesn't it?
If you're not judging what happens, then you're trusting what others are doing, what you're playing, and trusting what you're playing.And it can lead you to other ideas, to something maybe you hadn't expressed before.
I got a chance to work with Miles Davis, and that changed everything for me, 'cause Miles really encouraged all his musicians to reach beyond what they know, go into unknown territory and explore. It's made a difference to me and the decisions that I've made over the years about how to approach a project in this music.
I keep recycling and repackaging music that I've done in the past, as though I can't write anymore. Like, okay, I'm done with that. But I need to kind of prod myself again into come on, Herbie, get off your duff and start writing some new music.
I never dreamed I would be a Goodwill Ambassador, and for UNESCO. Perfect organization. It is apolitical and it's about education, science and culture. I mean that is what I live. That is what UNESCO is really about; it's all about bringing human beings together with one common goal, which is to move human kind forward.
Jazz is really about the human experience. It’s about the ability of human beings to take the worst of circumstances and struggles and turn it into something creative and constructive. That’s something that’s built into the fiber of every human being. And I think that’s why people can respond to it. They feel the freedom in it. And the attributes of jazz are also admirable. It’s about dialogue. It’s about sharing. And teamwork. It’s in the moment, and it's nonjudgmental.
I don't mind being classified as a jazz artist, but I do mind being restricted to being a jazz artist. My foundation has been in jazz, though I didn't really start out that way. I started in classical music, but my formative years were in jazz, and it makes a great foundation.
I don't think there are any pure Africans of the African Americans, but the African part of our history was pretty much taken away from us during slavery, so the 60s gave us a chance, because of the civil rights movement, to kind of re-examine and make some sort of formal connection to our African-ness.
A great teacher is one who realizes that he himself is also a student and whose goal is not dictate the answers, but to stimulate his students' creativity enough so that they go out and find the answers themselves.
Most people define themselves by what they do - 'I'm a musician.' Then one day it occurred to me that I'm only a musician when I'm playing music - or writing music, or talking about music. I don't do that 24 hours a day. I'm also a father, a son, a husband, a citizen - I mean, when I go to vote, I'm not thinking of myself as 'a musician.'
One thing that sticks in my mind is that jazz means freedom and openness. It's a music that, although it developed out of the African American experience, speaks more about the human experience than the experience of a particular people.
I don't view myself as a musician anymore - I view myself as a human being that functions as a musician when I'm functioning as a musician, but that's not 24 hours a day. That's really opened me up to even more perspectives because now I look at music, not from the standpoint of being a musician, but from the standpoint of being a human being.
Clare Fischer was a major influence on my harmonic concept. He and Bill Evans, and Ravel and Gil Evans, finally. You know, that's where it really came from. Almost all of the harmony that I play can be traced to one of those four people and whoever their influences were.