Earliest "jazz" composition? (May 18, 1916)
strangeguitars at GMAIL.COM
Mon Dec 7 09:29:24 UTC 2009
On Mon, Dec 7, 2009 at 12:50 PM, Benjamin Zimmer <
bgzimmer at babel.ling.upenn.edu> wrote:
> Barry Popik has noted a slightly earlier musical piece entitled
> "Jazbo: Foxtrot" by Arthur S. Shaw (Chicago: Forster Music Publishers,
> © Jan. 3, 1916). Sheet music is here:
> However, that was an instrumental piece, so it's not entirely clear
> what "Jazbo" might have referred to.
Any ideas about the -bo suffix in similar contemporary contexts?
> Note that the variant "jasbo
> (band)" has been found as early as Sep. 1914 referring to vaudeville
> So "When I Hear That Jaz Band Play," would seem to hold the
> distinction of earliest unequivocal "jazz" music.
I think it's much safer to say that it is simply the earliest piece of known
music to have that word in the title; there are lots of pieces of music that
sing the praises of other styles, for example, "Play That Barbershop Chord"
is not barbershop music, but rather an early blues/jazz piece that just
didn't happen to have "jazz" or "blues" in the title. I believe it was
originally published for piano and voice (in 1910). It is the earliest
known reference to "barbershop" as a type of harmony. But intrepid
etymologists may like to search for an earlier reference in newspapers and
I just happened to have performed a guitar arrangement I made of "Play That
Barbershop Chord" today, so it's wonderful to see this kind of music
discussed here. The 1910s and thereabouts have a lot of wonderful pop music
that has been basically forgotten about.
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