I like this interview with Branford Marsalis in the Seattle Weekly, and completely agree with him:
You put on old records and they always sound better. Why are they better? I started listening to a lot of classical music, and that really solidified the idea that the most important and the strongest element of music is the melodic content.
In jazz we spend a lot of time talking about harmony. Harmonic music tends to be very insular. It tends to be [like] you’re in the private club with a secret handshake.
I have a lot of normal friends. ‘Cause it’s important. [When] you have a bunch of musicians talking about music and they talk about what’s good and what’s not good, they don’t consider the larger context of it…
When laypeople listen to records, there’re certain things they’re going to get to. First of all, how it sounds to them. If the value of the song is based on intense analysis of music, you’re doomed. Because people that buy records don’t know shit about music. When they put on Kind of Blue and say they like it, I always ask people: What did you like about it? They describe it in physical terms, in visceral terms, but never in musical terms.
But then he says what so many musicians say:
Everything you read about jazz is: “Is it new? Is it innovative?” I mean, man, there’s 12 fucking notes. What’s going to be new? You honestly think you’re going to play something that hasn’t been played already?
And I always think, Well, actually there are a lot more than 12 fucking notes if you want to use them, and with the other ones I think I have played some things that – worthwhile or not – at least hadn’t been played before.