I think that innovation is inside you, when you’re born. And if you feel that way about your art form, whether it’s dance, or whether it’s film making or whether it’s writing or whether it’s painting, you have a passion, you have a a calling, kind of, to make something new that’s never been before–
There’ s something that happens between the human touch of the musician and the way the musician hears music inside their soul that’s transformed through this machine [their instrument] into the air, you know, into people who are listening as what they’re hearing, the sound that they’re hearing. Which is unbelievable when you, when you really think about it. It’s like a miracle. And I really think that the way that happens is every musician hears music, well, actually every human being that has a musical ear hears music differently, just like we all have different finger prints. Each person hears different melodies. They have their own melodies and that that derive from their own chords inside, that are inside them.
Well, I believe that jazz and improvised music allows the person who’s listening to it to touch a deeper place inside their souls that’s always been there but they’ve never discovered it. And the musician, some of them realize what they’re doing and some of them really don’t. A lot of the younger musicians who are just learning the art form, they think about jazz as the technical part, you know, the scales and the licks and the phrases that they have to learn in order to play hip, you know. And things like that and play the latest stuff. They don’t really think about where does beauty come from? You know, where does depth come from? Where do we come from? Why do we want to play? We come from the stars. And I always try to play the stars when I play.
Try to get close to them, you know. It’s like when, when you go outside on a starry night, a clear night and you look up. One night I was driving and I saw the moon bigger than I’d ever seen it before, you know. How do you play that. To get close to those kinds of things that people don’t talk about, they don’t find words to talk about, to explain them, you know.
Music teaches you humility. When you really touch music and you’re playing, music shows you first your insignificance and your unimportance to the rest of the universe. And only after that you can see your true importance and your true significance. And that’s what real humility is about. And I tell them that if they want to become a great musician, they should strive to become a great person first. To become a good human being with humility and appreciation and givingness in their lives. And if they strive to do that then maybe, they may be able to become a good musician.
– Charlie Haden, interview 1996