Jim Szana


Dr. Jim Szana (pronounced “ZAH na”) or simply known as Jim is a retired dentist of 50 years. He worked in Pierre and Murdo, South Dakota for 45 years, and 5 years in the United States Air Force.

Jim says, “The bossa nova sound of Jobim has always fascinated me.  I like the happy samba sound and the unusual chord structure that is Jobim.  In my late teens and early twenties Ramsey Lewis made a real impression on me.  I liked the way he played Beatles and other popular groups in his own style.  Recently, I have come to appreciate Dave Brubeck who is clearly in a league of his own, his chromatic patterns can be very complex.  Because I never played in any band until 1998, I already had my “style” and that leaks out in virtually every song I play.”

Jim is also a Viet Nam veteran and that experience has colored his world.  The idea Good Evening Viet Nam did not just occur to him, rather it consumed and over took him.

Jim’s wife Sandy created the “Good Evening Viet Nam” cover painting and also painted the cover of his newly published book, Origins and Suffering.

Why does Jim play jazz?  “Jazz is improvisation.  I make a lot of mistakes and when you try and correct your mistakes on the fly you can come up with some interesting scenarios.  Some of my best riffs have occurred under the duress of being totally lost.  Besides, who wants to play anything the same way every time?”

Jim’s musical style of combining songs in unexpected delicate ways, really does allow the listener to make familiar things new.

“Music helps not the toothache.”

George Herbert.

“A legend is an old man with a cane known for what he used to do.”

Miles Davis.

“The basic difference between classical music and jazz is that in the form the music is always graver than its performance—whereas the way jazz is performed is always more important than what is being played.”

Andre Previn.

“The notes I handle no better than many pianists. But the pauses between the notes—ah, that is where the art resides!”

Artur Schnabel.

“A musician may suddenly reach a point at which pleasure in the technique of the art entirely falls away, and in some moment of inspiration, he becomes the instrument through which music is played.”

Edwin Diller Starbuck.

“Music is too idealistic a thing to permit itself to be bound to concrete references. You cannot have a white horse in music.”

Paul Rosenfield.

“There’s only one way to sum up music: either it’s good or it’s bad. If it’s good you don’t mess about with it; you just enjoy it.”

Louis Armstrong.

“Forget the notes so that you can play them.”

Jan Sardi.

When asked to define jazz, Louis “Satchmo Armstrong replied, “Man, if you gotta ask, you’ll never know.”

Louis Armstrong

“Canned music is like audible wallpaper.”

Alistair Cooke.

“Don’t play what’s there, play what’s not there.”

Miles Davis.

“Disharmony is simply a harmony to which many are unaccustomed.”

John Cage.

“Discord occasions a momentary distress to the ear, which remains unsatisfied, and even uneasy, until it hears something better.”

Charles Burney.

“Let us not forget that the greatest composers were also the greatest thieves. They stole from everyone and everywhere.”

Pablo Casals.

“Jazz is about the only form of art existing today in which there is freedom of the individual without the loss of group contact.”

Dave Brubeck.

“What we play is life.”

Louis Armstrong.

“Music is your own experience, your thought, your wisdom. If you don’t live it, it won’t come out of your horn.”

Charlie Parker.

“Too many pieces of music finish too long after the end.”

Igor Stravinsky.

“Jazz is about the only form of MUSIC in which the same note can be played night after night but differently each time.”

Ornette Coleman.