steinbeck on jazz musicians

I know of no group [apart from jazz musicians] which has such direction in work. They aim at excellence and apparently at nothing else. They are hard to buy and if bought they either backslide into honesty or lose the respect of their peers. And this is a loss that terrifies them. In any other field of American life, great rewards can be used to cover a loss of honesty, but not with jazz players — a slip is known and recognized instantly. And further, they do not compare with those in other professions. Let a filthy kid, unknown, unheard of and unbacked sit in — and if he can do it — he is recognized and accepted instantly. Do you know of any other field where this is true? And this curious search for and treasuring of excellence is the one thing that has never been said of them nor written of them.

– John Steinbeck