I tell my students, 'It's an important tradition and you have to go back and hear this music and learn its language all the way through. How are you going to know what's new to play, if you haven't listened to everything that's old?'

— Jackie McLean

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I never really sounded like Bird, but that was my mission.

I didn't care if people said that I copied him; I loved Bird's playing so much. But Mingus was the one that really pushed me away from the idea and forced me into thinking about having an individual sound and concept. That's what I got from Mingus.

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If you can sing it, you can play it.

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