Karl Johnson, my first piano player at Milt Trenier's, he just swung really hard and gave me a sense of really belonging to the jazz scene.

I'm thrilled when I hear the greatest jazz musicians. They continue to search in ways other musicians do not.

Music is a physical expression that has a physical impact upon the listener. Sound travels in waves through the air. This is not abstract. This is scientific fact. And it makes physical contact with the eardrum... and with the heart... and with the rest of the body.

Chicago is my home. And the way Chicago sounds will always be a part of who I am.

You can start from any source material, and you can approach it with a jazz ear, and then it will become a jazz moment.

I was very lucky that more experienced musicians allowed me to caterwaul until I figured out what it was really about.

I've tried to learn as much as I can about the great jazz singers to understand what makes them important, vital artists, but there is always something more to learn.

I'm lucky that I enjoy touring as much as I do. I'm not going to make a living just making records.

I try to stick with things that I can sing with honesty.

I've got enough miles under my belt to know that whatever you envision in your mind, even if it comes true, will only keep a shape in the most general way.

The idea is to be unrestrained by categories.

If you start to dwell on your pain, the amount of pain will increase.

Salacious? I suppose every once in a while the salacious thing is not a bad thing. It's kind of monochromatic if that's all you do.

I can't say New York's home, but I've made a lot of friends, and I'm developing a map of what cats are here and where they play, and as a singer, you're always looking for projects that tie things in emotionally and intuitively with your life.

You don't know what bravery is until you overcome fear.

'Man in the Air' was an experience in exercise.

While I revel in the memories of my own Grammy moment, I also know how it feels to walk away empty-handed.

I remember seeing Tony Bennett on television. He was the only guy in the orchestra who was wearing a white tux, and I thought, 'That would be good. To be the only man on stage in a white jacket.'

People want to have access to jazz because it has a vibe that's very strong.

People just want to dig; they want to dance. They don't want to work all through the night, and neither do I. I like getting 'out there,' but communication should be occurring on more levels than heavy-laden philosophical.

Out in L.A., things relax even further than they do in Chicago. There's such a looseness to it, and there's a potentially refreshing advantage to that.

It's a beautiful thing to have time in the world, as a singer and as a musician, to make friends with people of the musical caliber of a Tommy Smith, an Arturo Sandoval, a Richard Galliano, a Till Broenner.

It's pretty rare in jazz to have a full-on steady band.

A lot of people are put off by the idea of scat singing. Either that or it's something to be made fun of.

You can never predict what the specific shape of your life is going to be, and you won't really know its general shape until, God willing, you're advanced in years and you have the time and opportunity to look back in a coherent way and see what your life was about.

I had everything to gain by giving it everything I could.

I think I make most of my decisions pretty organically.

My goal is to be really incredible by the time I'm 70.

I want to be the jazz singer.

I've tried to educate myself in the world and what's beautiful and what has meaning and is lasting. Then I just follow my intuition and see how it fits.

There are incredible musicians around the world.

We all know that jazz demands a cultivation of the mind.

It must be a hellish thing to know what's possible in music, to be hearing things all the time and not have an appropriate outlet for them.

There's a spiritual complement to any attempt at transposing a commitment to humanity through music or art.

I didn't arrive on the scene until after Jaco Pastorius had passed, but 'Three Views of a Secret' is a long-time favourite of mine.

Grammy nominations are certainly pleasant, but you can forget about them and lead a perfectly happy life - provided you have the approval of the musicians you work with.

If I was going to sell out, I would do it for more than 10,000 records.

When improvisation is properly applied, it is compositional thinking, sped way up.

My strength is to communicate with an audience and to know what jazz singing is capable of.

I hope that I'm also maturing emotionally as a human being as things go on.

Audiences have taught me how to sing better and entertain better.

I'm a jazz musician, and I really wanted to not miss an opportunity to have the full connection to jazz.

We live in a society where it's cool to be criminal.

Chicago has a burly, action-oriented but still self-assured and relaxed confidence to its stride. The city has a lot of wide-open space and all the possibilities that suggests. There's a lot of horizontal grandeur here.

You don't just let a guy drop off the earth and not come together with everybody who knew him and loved him and respected him. You try to do it the right way.

You don't show respect to Frank Sinatra and his great example by trying to sound exactly like him. You show it by sounding exactly like you, and that's the way jazz has always progressed as an art form.

I think of jazz as being homage through innovation. Don't quote that as a definition, but it comes pretty close.

I don't want to take it easy.

I'm a guy who has more slapstick than Joe Cool moments in his day, so I'm not taking myself so seriously.