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Yogi Explains Jazz September 23, 2015

Filed under: All My Relations,Arts,Humor,music — BrujaHa @ 6:15 pm
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RIP Yogi Berra, whom my friend Steve Gaddis rightfully calls “America’s unintentional Zen master.” Yogi_Berra_1956

By way of example, here’s his take on jazz – in which he captures its spirit better than anyone I’ve ever heard:
Yogi Berra Explains Jazz
By Steve Chalke

Interviewer: Can you explain jazz?
Yogi: I can’t, but I will. 90% of all jazz is half improvisation. The other half is the part people play while others are playing something they never played with anyone who played that part. So if you play the wrong part, its right. If you play the right part, it might be right if you play it wrong enough. But if you play it too right, it’s wrong.
Interviewer: I don’t understand.
Yogi: Anyone who understands jazz knows that you can’t understand it. It’s too complicated. That’s whats so simple about it.
Interviewer: Do you understand it?
Yogi: No. That’s why I can explain it. If I understood it, I wouldn’t know anything about it.
Interviewer: Are there any great jazz players alive today?
Yogi: No. All the great jazz players alive today are dead. Except for the ones that are still alive. But so many of them are dead, that the ones that are still alive are dying to be like the ones that are dead. Some would kill for it.
Interviewer: What is syncopation?
Yogi: That’s when the note that you should hear now happens either before or after you hear it. In jazz, you don’t hear notes when they happen because that would be some other type of music. Other types of music can be jazz, but only if they’re the same as something different from those other kinds.
Interviewer: Now I really don’t understand.
Yogi: I haven’t taught you enough for you to not understand jazz that well.


Thanks to Michael DeLalla for introducing me to this Berra interview. His fingerpicking guitar wizardry can be heard at





18 Responses to “Yogi Explains Jazz”

  1. JGavin Bergstrom Says:

    Actualization through realization. It is amazing that the Interviewer notes syncope to demonstrate what is out of step. Sometimes, it’s a beautiful thing and other times (sewing machines) it’s a real drag.

    Thanks Tina

  2. Chris Kermiet Says:

    Love it!

  3. Tamela Germano (facebook link) Says:

    Bye Yogi 😦

  4. Debbie Lucien (facebook link) Says:


  5. Mark Labencki (facebook link) Says:


  6. Dean Allaudin Ottinger (facebook link) Says:

    Stupendous !!

  7. Phia Ramsay (facebook link) Says:

    Oh man, that interview had me in tears 🙂

  8. Lawrence McBride (facebook link) Says:

    This is great.

  9. Bruce Randall (facebook link) Says:

    Wow! I never really understood Jazz, but now I think I do.

  10. RedChef Says:

    Hilarious!! And true, as far as I could follow it… Thanks!

  11. JGavin Bergstrom Says:

    Speaking of syncope and what may be perceived as out of step. The snakes in your depiction? Are they meant to raise awareness to a Medusa like characteristic? Or are they simply snakes?

    It is a beautiful thing that we have the memory of Yogi here on video as well as his “perfect game” (you tube).

    Thanks Tina

    • Tina Fields Says:

      Is there really such a thing as a “simple snake?” 🙂 I drew that Medusa as the logo for the Society for the Anthropology of Consciousness, 15 years ago. They’ve since changed it to something straighter. It seeks to reclaim snaky-haired women as something to not revile but appreciate. Transformation, y’know…

      • Medusa was a manifestation, St Patrick plagiarized the story of Moses (also dubious) and it would appear that Snakes aren’t always what they appear to be. Sometimes there impoverished pagan farmers and other times transformative beautiful people; Who happen to be depicted as snaky-haired with glowing eyes. Truly I do appreciate you and your site. I’m uneasy with Gender appreciation and often wonder if appreciation or “revile” for that matter need be Gender specific. Society and it’s manifest Gender conformity issues that leave some of us marginalized in one way or another is a hypocrisy.
        I was hopeful to hear that Gender neutrality is gaining traction and hopefully someday will lead to the kind of Constitutional equality that is valid as opposed to abstract for all of us.

        The Neuralgia has been worse lately and it can be difficult for me. If I have been offensive in anyway, I apologize. It’s so frustrating, I look perfectly fine and everything works. I just remain exhausted from the resonant noise and truly never achieve REM sleep.

        Thank you, thank you

        PS: It was a little intimidating y’know…..maybe being turned to stone…… (yes I raised my shield to the monitor). You are amazing.

  12. Tina,
    I was brave enough to create a site on word press for my ruminations. As with all other things these days, it was an interesting experience. May I also say that in the previous post, I was writing about Yogi’s perfect game that is available (in part) on You-tube.

    Thank you

    • Tina Fields Says:

      Congrats! May your new blog bring you insight & joy in the writing, and interesting interactions with readers you might otherwise never “meet.”

      • I feel like a child of sorts? I’ve been using a system for writing developed by Dr Gabrielle Rico, “Writing the Natural Way” you may have heard or have experience with. It is remarkable as a tool for exploration and assisting me beyond the resonant noise. Although, it has been a little interesting to realize my own voice in the creating and outcome. Tonight I spent 15 minutes “clustering” and ended up giving rise to a Snarky inner self. It left me a little giggly for what remains an examination at some other point. Thank you for acknowledging me Dr Fields and for your interaction.

        Your Beautiful

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