[Ads-l] Early "Jazz" Citation

Peter Reitan pjreitan at HOTMAIL.COM
Sun Jan 16 22:45:10 EST 2022


I recall several early jazz references from writers gambling with baseball players at a resort with the visiting Chicago White Stockings, where the master of ceremonies who picked up the players was a SF jazz band leader.

So it doesn't have to be one place or the other, with cross pollination.
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From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> on behalf of Shapiro, Fred <fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU>
Sent: Sunday, January 16, 2022 3:50:17 PM
To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
Subject: Re: Early "Jazz" Citation

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Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
Poster:       "Shapiro, Fred" <fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU>
Subject:      Re: Early "Jazz" Citation
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Actually, I think this is the only known citation of "the old jazz" in that=
 time-period that is not relating to the San Francisco area.  I should also=
 note the obvious point that this citation is from Chicago, which appears t=
o be the incubator of "jazz" referring to music.

Fred Shapiro


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From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> on behalf of Shapir=
o, Fred <fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU>
Sent: Sunday, January 16, 2022 6:27 PM
To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
Subject: Early "Jazz" Citation

I often criticize other people for far-fetched etymological theories based =
on coincidence, and often espouse the theory that if a citation is "too goo=
d to be true," it's doubtless not true.  But I have found an interesting ci=
tation and seek help in interpreting it.

1913 The Scoop (Press Club of Chicago) 13 Sept. 429 (Internet Archive)  And=
 say, Glommer, old peg, let's slab the old jazz.  Some night we'll meet at =
the clubhouse beaker bazaar.  And then we'll both teach the Chinaman his mu=
sic lesson -- eh, kid?

The earliest known use of "jazz" meaning a type of music was discovered by =
me in a 1915 issue of the Chicago Tribune, a full year or so earlier than a=
ny other such usage.  I realize that the citation above is probably a usage=
 of the slang term "the old jazz" that was current in 1913 in San Francisco=
 and elsewhere, and probably is not referrring specifically to a type of mu=
sic.  But does anyone have any idea as to what a slangy use of "slab" as a =
verb might mean?  And does anyone think this could be a reference to music?=
  The context seems musical, unless "music lesson" is some kind of metaphor=
.  The citation is an item that immediately follows an item about "negro" m=
usic.

Fred Shapiro

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