Bert Kelly's Jaz Band (UNCLASSIFIED)

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Wed Sep 15 01:57:59 UTC 2010

On Tue, Sep 14, 2010 at 7:49 PM, Baker, John <JMB at> wrote:
>        So it remains the case that "jazz" almost certainly came from
> the West Coast, probably derived from "jasm," and may well have been
> introduced by Bert Kelly.  However, Tom Brown's Band is the earliest
> documented example and probably was calling itself a jazz band by 1915,
> so Kelly's claim is unproven at best.  After all, Kelly may have been at
> Boyes Springs, but there were plenty of people who had been on the West
> Coast and read their newspapers.

And they didn't even have to be on the West Coast, since they could
have read a widely syndicated June 1913 article on "city slang,"
explaining that "out in San Francisco the most popular word is 'the
old jazz.'" We know that one version was published in the Fort Wayne
Sentinel and the Idaho Daily Statesman, and another version in the
Duluth News Tribune. No doubt many other papers picked it up.


Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society -

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