"Jazz" in Chicago Tribune

Fred Shapiro fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU
Sat May 15 13:25:10 UTC 2004

The Chicago Tribune unfortunately does not appear (I haven't checked the
classified ad hits!) to have an antedating of the word "jazz."  However, I
did find the following, which I believe is the earliest usage yet found of
"jazz" referring to a type of music:

1915 _Chicago Daily Tribune_ 11 July E8 (ProQuest)  Blues Is Jazz and Jazz
Is Blues ... The Worm had turned -- turned to fox trotting.  And the
"blues" had done it.  The "jazz" had put pep into the legs that had
scrambled too long for the 5:15. ... At the next place a young woman
was keeping "Der Wacht Am Rhein" and "Tipperary Mary" apart when the
interrogator entered.  "What are the blues?" he asked gently.  "Jazz!"
The young woman's voice rose high to drown the piano. ... The blues are
never written into music, but are interpolated by the piano player or
other players.  They aren't new.  They are just reborn into popularity.
They started in the south half a century ago and are the interpolations of
darkies originally.  The trade name for them is "jazz."  ... Thereupon
"Jazz" Marion sat down and showed the bluest streak of blues ever heard
beneath the blue.  Or, if you like this better: "Blue" Marion sat down and
jazzed the jazziest streak of jazz ever.  Saxophone players since the
advent of the "jazz blues" have taken to wearing "jazz collars," neat
decollate things that give the throat and windpipe full play, so that the
notes that issue from the tubes may not suffer for want of blues -- those
wonderful blues.


The above citation is also an antedating of "jazz" as a verb (OED, HDAS
1917) and "jazzy" (OED 1919, HDAS 1917).

Fred Shapiro

Fred R. Shapiro                             Editor
Associate Librarian for Collections and     YALE DICTIONARY OF QUOTATIONS
  Access and Lecturer in Legal Research     Yale University Press,
Yale Law School                             forthcoming
e-mail: fred.shapiro at yale.edu               http://quotationdictionary.com

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