Earliest "jazz" composition? (May 18, 1916)
george.thompson at NYU.EDU
Mon Dec 7 23:49:13 UTC 2009
(Benjamin Zimmer) > However, that was an instrumental piece, so it's not entirely clear what "Jazbo" might have referred to.
(Randy Alexander) Any ideas about the -bo suffix in similar contemporary contexts?
(Benjamin Zimmer) > Note that the variant "jasbo (band)" has been found as early as Sep. 1914 referring to vaudeville troupes:
It appears that "jasbo" has nothing to do with"jazz", though once jazz music became the popular music of the day, it was reinterpreted as if it meant "someone who's jazz-crazy" and usually spelled "jazzbo".
Back in 2003, Dale Coye proposed here that "jasbo" was a form of the first name "Jasper", the sort of first name attached to dumb farmers, such as city people like to hold up to scorn, and therefore a good word for the sort of entertainment that dumb farmers woud be amused by.
In the mid teens it was applied to pie-in-the-face movies and vulgarity in vaudeville acts; for instance:
The big laughs for jasbo, hokum, and gravy, as we call broad humor, frequently come from the women patrons in the house where it is performed.
New York Times, July 4, 1915, section X, p. 2, cols. 5-6
George A. Thompson
Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern Univ. Pr., 1998, but nothing much lately.
----- Original Message -----
From: Randy Alexander <strangeguitars at GMAIL.COM>
Date: Monday, December 7, 2009 4:30 am
Subject: Re: Earliest "jazz" composition? (May 18, 1916)
To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
> 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:
> > http://www.ragtimepiano.ca/images/jazbo.pdf
> > 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
> > troupes:
> > http://listserv.linguistlist.org/cgi-bin/wa?A2=ind0711A&L=ADS-L&P=R9580
> > 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
> 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
> the like!
> I just happened to have performed a guitar arrangement I made of "Play
> 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
> that has been basically forgotten about.
> Randy Alexander
> Jilin City, China
> Manchu studies: http://www.bjshengr.com/manchu
> Chinese characters: http://www.bjshengr.com/yuwen
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
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