"Jazz" treatment on Internet website looks weak

Gerald Cohen gcohen at UMR.EDU
Sun Nov 2 15:24:01 UTC 2003

>At 2:25 AM -0500 11/2/03, Sam Clements wrote:
>An article over at the Straight Dope brought up a site
>They also speculate on the origins of Jazz.

   "Speculate" is correct. Here's a sample from the first paragraph.
Note the passage's last sentence: "If the memories...were
correct...."  That's a very big "if," decades after the fact and yet
used to permit the author to speak of "the word's earliest-known
appearance in print." The paragraph says:

>  :It is said that the expression -'Jazz'- arose during the late
>nineteenth century in the better brothels of New Orleans, which
>provided music and dancing as well as sex. The original jazz band,
>according to Herbert Asbury's 'The Latin Quarter' (1938), was the
>'Spasm (sic) Band', made up of seven boys, aged twelve to fifteen,
>who first appeared in New Orleans about 1895. They advertised
>themselves as the "Razzy Dazzy Spasm Band." When, about 1900,
>another band adopted the same billing for an appearance at the
>Haymarket dance hall, the 'Spasms' loaded their pockets with rocks
>and dropped by to protest the infringement. This prompted the owner
>of the hall to repaint his advertising placards to read: "Razzy
>Dazzy Jazzy Band!" If the memories of Asbury's sources were
>correct--and he talked to two surviving members of the 'Spasms'
>--this represents the word's earliest-known appearance in print.

Gerald Cohen

P.S. I'm trying to prepare a comprehensive study of the term "jazz,"
with due credit given to all who have contributed. Two drafts have
thus far been prepared and distributed, and draft #3 will appear this
spring or next fall. Periodic updates appear along the way.

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