Art Hickman, Boyes Springs & Jazz -- long note

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Thu Dec 31 20:06:33 UTC 2009

Oddly or interestingly, GB has a 1920 ex. of "jazz water," apparently from
the South, in the sense of "perfume."


On Thu, Dec 31, 2009 at 1:08 PM, Benjamin Zimmer <
bgzimmer at> wrote:

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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Benjamin Zimmer <bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: Art Hickman, Boyes Springs & Jazz -- long note
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> A couple of belated notes...
> On Mon, Dec 14, 2009 at 6:06 PM, George Thompson
> <george.thompson at> wrote:
> >
> >        It's believed that Hickman was also tickled by the word "jazz",
> and began to use it to
> > describe the sort of vigorous, energetic dance music his bands played.
>  The SFChronicle
> > file doesn't help to confirm that thought, though it remains very likely.
> Are there any quotes from Hickman where he speaks approvingly of the
> word "jazz" (other than the June 15, 1919 cite below)?
> > The ads in the Chronicle for the Rose Room never identify Hickman's band
> as a "jazz" band.
> > Oddly, there was a "Jazz Orchestra" playing on Powell street a few blocks
> way:
> >        TECHAU TAVERN.
> >        San Francisco's Leading High-Class Family Cafe on the Ground
> Floor, Corner of
> > Eddy and Powell Streets.
> >        Entire change of repertoire by our Show Girl Revue, but retaining
> by popular
> > request the singing from the electric swings in midair.
> >        The Jazz Orchestra, under the leadership of Mr. George Gould, San
> Francisco's newest
> > and most sensational find, for the dance lovers.  Mr. Gould renders a
> number of his own
> > creations with that Jazz syncopation rarely ever heard above the Mason
> and Dixon line.
> >        ***
> >        San Francisco Chronicle, August 28, 1916, p. 2, col. ?
> George Gould played piano with Hickman and Bert Kelly at the St.
> Francis in 1914, according to Tim Gracyk:
> >        Hickman described his band as playing jazz in 1919:
> >        "Jazz music was always a success.  The St. Francis was brave
> enough to install it in its
> > principal ballroom, and the society matron found she didn't have to go
> slumming in order to
> >  hear bright and snappy melodies.  It has been refined.  ***  [A Symphony
> orchestra] plays
> > but twenty weeks in a year.  My orchestra entertains people for fifty-two
> weeks.  A legitimate
> > musician must play according to his music.  He can't improvise.  that's
> where we jazz
> > musicians have the advantage.  ***  When liquor goes, jazz will be the
> only thing with a kick.
> > Instead of making people weep, we will give them an enjoyable pill of
> jazz."
> >        San Francisco Chronicle, June 15, 1919.  p. S16, col. ?
> This is a very interesting find, since the quotes I've seen from
> Hickman around this time were more disparaging of "jazz". Lawrence
> Gushee, in _Pioneers of Jazz_, suggests that Hickman might have had
> reason to distance himself from "jazz" after moving on from Boyes
> Springs to high-class venues like the St. Francis.
> ---
> _San Francisco Examiner_, Oct. 12, 1919, p. W16:4 (cited by Gracyk)
> "Hickman does not like the use of the word 'jazz' in relation to
> music. 'It has no association with music,' he said. 'It means
> something effervescent. The word was born in the first training camp
> of the San Francisco Seals at Boyes Springs, many years ago. The boys,
> not being allowed to drink, would ask for the bubbling water of the
> springs, calling it "jazz water." Gradually, the word was carried to
> the ball ground, and when action was wanted, the boys would call out,
> "come on, let's jazz it up." That is how an orchestra with life came
> to be known as a "Jazz orchestra." But none of us like the word,'
> added Hickman."
> ---
> _Talking Machine World_, July 15, 1920, p. 6 (cited by Gushee)
> "Jazz is merely noise, a product of the honky-tonks, and has no place
> in a refined atmosphere. We have tried to develop an orchestra that
> charges every pulse with energy, without stooping to the skillet
> beating, sleigh bell ringing contraptions and physical gyrations of a
> padded cell."
> ---
> --Ben Zimmer
> ------------------------------------------------------------
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