20 Spectacular Count Basie Quotes

Count Basie was a jazz pianoist, bandleader, and composer. Receiving the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and more, Basie left an amazing legacy behind having passed on from pancreatic cancer in 1984. Here is a look at some of the best Count Basie quotes to ever be recorded.

“All I wanted was to be big, to be in show business and to travel … and that’s what I’ve been doing all my life.”

“I decided that I would be one of the biggest new names; and I actually had some little fancy business cards printed up to announce it,”Count Basie. Beware, the Count is Here.””

“I don’t dig that two-beat jive the New Orleans cats play. My boys and I have to have four heavy beats to the bar and no cheating.”

“I got everything I wanted. When I was young in Kansas City, I knew nothing about Frank Sinatra, Billy Eckstine, Ella Fitzgerald, of all those concert halls, of all those countries.”

“I just think swing is a matter of some good things put together that you can really pat your foot by. I can’t define it beyond that.”


“I never thought innovation as such was very important. Not when you have to think about it… If you’re going to come up with a new direction or a really new way to do something, you’ll do it by just playing your stuff and letting it ride.”

“I think the band can really swing when it swings easy, when it can just play along like you are cutting butter.”

“I, of course, wanted to play real jazz. When we played pop tunes, and naturally we had to, I wanted those pops to kick! Not loud and fast, understand, but smoothly and with a definite punch.”

“If a guy is gonna to play good bop, he has to have a sort of a bop soul.”

“If you find a note tonight that sounds good, play the same damn note every night!”

“If you play a tune and a person don’t tap their feet, don’t play the tune.”

“I’ll always remember when I first heard Lester [Young]. I’d never heard anyone like him before. He was a stylist with a different sound. A sound I’d never heard before or since.”

“I’m saying: to be continued, until we meet again. Meanwhile, keep on listening and tapping your feet.”

“It’s the way you play that makes it . . . Play like you play. Play like you think, and then you got it, if you’re going to get it. And whatever you get, that’s you, so that’s your story.”

“Keep on listening & tapping your feet.”

“Learn to deal with the valleys and the hills will take care of themselves.”

“Of course, there are a lot of ways you can treat the blues, but it will still be the blues.”

“Oscar Peterson plays the best ivory box I’ve ever heard.”

“The real innovators did their innovating by just being themselves.”

“Well, if you find a note tonight that sounds good, play the same damn note every night!”

Here is a video of Count Basie as he performed at Carnegie Hall.