"Jazz Means Happy and Loose Like" (1917)

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Mon Dec 3 16:56:38 UTC 2007

Interesting item from America's Historical Newspapers...

Morning Olympian (Olympia, Wash.), July 1, 1917, p. 1, col. 1
Jazz Means Happy and Loose Like.
It's a Lovely Syncopated, Care Free Feeling.
Many guesses and opinions have been offered as to the meaning of the
word "Jazz," since Raymond Ballard's Jazz Orchestra played at the Red
Cross ball last Thursday evening.
Regarding the word, its acceptance by the public and its meaning, Mr.
Ballard said yesterday: "Jazz music is simply the natural, happy
expression of syncopated music. The word is also used to express the
meaning of a mixture or a jumble, and its application in that sense to
dance music. [illegible] the ability of the musicians to [illegible]
mix it up [illegible] and all kinds of liberties with it, yet at the
same time to maintain a perfect rhythm and perfect harmony.
"'Jazz' musicians absolutely must feel the spirit of it and play
because they like to play, else they cease to be 'Jazz' musicians, and
paradoxical as it may seem, they must possess musical talent and
"In the south when a darky meets another darky and says 'How's you
feelin' this mornin' Rastus?' and Rastus replies: 'I's feelin' mighty
jazz' he means that he's very happy. And that's about all there is to
'Jazz,' but it's a whole lot!"

--Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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