Query: "Jazbo on upper lip" (1915)

Eric Nielsen ericbarnak at GMAIL.COM
Thu Jan 19 21:30:13 UTC 2012

I don't ever remember hearing any particular name for that dab of hair
until the last fifteen years or so. It has certainly become
popular now--as a search in Google Images will show. You were in the avant
garde. My first experience with it was with the Maynard G. Krebs
character in the "Dobie Gillis" series I watched as a kid. I guess people
just had to start naming it.

That business about it being an aid to trumpeters is all over the web. I
would have found it on Wikipedia, yesterday, had it not been
for the blackout. The Wikipedia article for "soul patch" did have a
reference to a book on Dizzy Gillespie, but I couldn't check it out  any
further because the copy on Google Books was incomplete. I would assume the
"patch" would be recommended in trumpet books and encouraged in music

After a Google Images search of Wynton Marsalis, I found he had
a "jazz/soul patch" in the early 80s that was a nice counterpoint to the
moustache he sported,


but later photos show him to be clean shaven. Apparently, a musician of his
high caliber( in both Jazz and Classical music) didn't find it a help for
his technique or he'd still have one.

I never realized this beard style has been around as long as you say,


On Thu, Jan 19, 2012 at 3:39 AM, Wilson Gray <hwgray at gmail.com> wrote:

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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Wilson Gray <hwgray at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Re: Query: "Jazbo on upper lip" (1915)
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> On Wed, Jan 18, 2012 at 6:24 AM, Eric Nielsen <ericbarnak at gmail.com>
> quoted:
> > "The soul patch was popularized by jazz <
> http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-jazz.htm> musicians, beatniks and
> > other artistic or rebellious men in the 1950s and 60s, thus its name.
> Jazz musician Dizzy Gillespie had a soul   > patch, leading the style to
> also be called a jazz dab or jazz spot. The style was popular with
> trumpeters in         > particular as the hair provided a cushion between
> sensitive skin and the trumpet's mouthpiece."
> "… thus its name."
> This makes it appear that "soul patch" dates to that era, which is not
> so.  As for "popular with trumpeters in particular," name one other
> than Dizzy, who wore that tuft of hair for the same reason that I
> still wear it. It's the style for us black guys of a certain age.
> "Sensitive skin"? No. Trumpeters don't try to avoid pain any more
> than, e.g. bassists try to avoid pain in their fingertips or
> saxophonists and clarinetists try to avoid pain in the mucus membrane
> of their lower lips.
> The first fifteen pages of GBooks take "soul patch" back only to 1999,
> although, IME. it's certainly older than that. As recently as last
> year, authors were still feeling that the term had to be defined for
> the casual reader.
> Dizzy was famous for the expansion of his cheeks and the popularity of
> be-bop glasses and the be-bop tam were attributed to him, back in the
> '50's heyday of be-bop. No mention was ever made of his facial hair
> because we colored fellows all wore this patch of hair and had been,
> since at least the '40's. But it didn't have a special name. is there
> any indication that this bit of facial hair had a special name even as
> far back as the lifetime of a famous white wearer of this style, the
> late-great Frank Zappa?
> I probably should clarify that my problem is with the pretense that
> the terms, "soul patch / jazz patch / jazz dab" or whatever are
> authentic jazz and/or BE terms dating back to the days of be-bop, is a
> style popularized among the polloi by Dizzy or some other jazz
> musician, and that the style once had a practical use.
> FWIW, "jazz patch / dab" was unknown to me before now and I've never
> heard "soul patch" spoken by anyone.  GBooks has "jazz patch" from
> 1947 in TIME. It's used as "cotton patch" is used. It's where jazz
> metaphorically "grows" and not a style of facial hair.
> --
> -Wilson
> -----
> All say, "How hard it is that we have to die!"---a strange complaint
> to come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
> -Mark Twain
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