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.
“This is the true joy in life, being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one. Being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances, complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it what I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no brief candle to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.” ― George Bernard Shaw