Query: Earliest attestation of "Razzy Dazzy Jazzy Band"

Gerald Cohen gcohen at MST.EDU
Sun Sep 4 01:42:32 UTC 2011

     First, many thanks for all the helpful replies. ---
Now, for easy access, here is Herbert Asbury's 1936 treatment of "jazz" as
presented by David Gold (noncommitally) in his 2009 book Studies in
Etymology and Etiology, pp 155-156). Asbury's passage appears on
pp. 437-438 of his book The French Quarter. (Btw, the instances of three
dots are made by Gold):
        ŒA few of the best brothels regularly employed orchestras of from
two to four instruments, which played each night in the ballroom from about
seven o¹clock to closing, which was usually at dawn. [...]. One of the most
popular of these combinations‹though not for dancing‹was a company of boys,
from twelve to fifteen years old, who called themselves the Spasm Band.
They were the real creators of jazz, and the Spasm Band was the original
jazz band. [...].  In short, they apparently originated practically all of
the antics with which the virtuosi of modern jazz provide the hotcha spirit,
and sometimes downright nausea. [...]
         ŒThe Spasm Band first appeared in New Orleans about 1895 [...],
[...] they were advertised as ³The Razzy Dazzy Spasm Band.² [ ]. About
1900‹the date is uncertain‹Jack Robinson, owner of the Haymarket dance halls
on Custom house Street between Dauphine and Bourbon , engaged a band of
experienced, adult musicians, who imitated the antics and contortions of the
Spasm Band and, moreover, used their billing -- Razzy Dazzy Spasm Band. When
the members of the original Spasm Band appeared at the Haymarket with their
hands and pockets filled with stones and bricks and made violent protest,
Robinson repainted his advertising placards to read: ³Razzy Dazzy Jazzy
Band!² Thus it began.¹

Gerald Cohen

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

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