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jazz, n. and adj.

Forms:  1900s jas (rare), 1900s jascz (nonstandard, rare), 1900s jasz (nonstandard, rare), 1900s jaz (rare), 1900s– jass, 1900s– jazz. (Show Less)
Frequency (in current use):  Show frequency band information
Origin: Of uncertain origin. Perhaps a variant or alteration of another lexical item. Etymon: jasm n.
Etymology: Origin uncertain; perhaps originally a variant of jasm n.
Attested earliest in California, frequently in baseball contexts and as college slang. The existence of an article (with reference to use of the word in sense A. 1) entitled ‘In praise of ‘jazz,’ a futurist word which has just joined the language’ (by E. J. Hopkins in Bulletin (San Francisco) (1913) 5 Apr. 28) suggests that the word was then a very recent innovation.
Apparently first applied to music in Chicago. Slightly earlier uses of the term are reported orally (some cited by D. Holbrook in Storyville 50 (1973–4  ) 46-58), but cannot be confirmed. For a connection between Californian and Chicago uses compare:
1917   New Victor Records Jass Band & Other Dance Selections in H. O. Brunn Story Orig. Dixieland Jazz Band (1960) viii. 92 (plate)   The Original Dixieland Jass Band...Spell it Jass, Jas, Jaz or Jazz—nothing can spoil a Jass band. Some say the Jass band originated in Chicago. Chicago says it comes from San Francisco—San Francisco being away off across the continent. Anyway, a Jass band is the newest thing in the cabarets, adding greatly to the hilarity thereof.
While the origins of jazz music (compare sense A. 3) are popularly associated with New Orleans, evidence for early use of the word there is inconclusive; ragtime n.   appears to have been the preferred term (compare earlier ragtime n., swing n.2 10b, and slightly earlier blues n.; compare also discussion in Comments on Etymology 30 (2000)). Compare the following conflicting statements (it is possible that the reporter from Variety used a term known to him, but not in use locally):
1916   Variety 3 Nov. 20   Variety's New Orleans correspondent [reports that]..‘Jazz Bands’ have been popular there for over two years.
1919   Lit. Digest 26 Apr. 47   The phrase ‘jazz band’ was first used by Bert Kelly in Chicago in the fall of 1915, and was unknown in New Orleans.
The suggestion that the sexual sense (see sense A. 4) was primary is unlikely, chiefly for semantic reasons, though not impossible.
A derivation < French jaser to chatter, gossip (16th cent. in Middle French; also earlier in an apparently isolated attestation as gaser   with reference to birdsong; of uncertain origin) is also unlikely on semantic grounds. The French word (or a homonym) is apparently also occasionally attested with reference to sexual activity, although in the following example the illustrative French quotation is taken from a 17th-cent. text:
1896   J. S. Farmer Vocab. Amatoria 162   Jaser (or Jazer). To copulate; ‘to chuck a tread’. Tu as les genoux chauds, tu veux jaser.—La Comédie des proverbes.
A supposed African origin discussed in the article from which the following passage is taken was later shown to have been invented by the author:
1917   Sun (N.Y.) 5 Aug. iii. 3/6   Variously spelled Jas, Jass, Jaz, Jazz, Jasz and Jascz. The word is African in origin. It is common on the Gold Coast of Africa and in the hinterland of Cape Coast Castle.
The word was associated with the name of the apparently fictitious Jasbo Brown   by 1919: see jazzbo n.   and discussion at that entry.
A suggested etymology < the female forename Jezebel (see Jezebel n.), allegedly used in 19th-cent. New Orleans to denote a prostitute, cannot be substantiated, nor can a derivation < jasmine n., suggested on the grounds that it may have been a perfume worn by prostitutes. Both suggestions also pose semantic problems.
A suggested etymology < Irish teas heat (ultimately < the same Indo-European base as classical Latin tepēre   to be warm: see tepid adj.) cannot be substantiated and is unlikely in view of the context of early uses of the word.
For a detailed discussion of a number of early theories concerning the word's origin, including some of those mentioned above, compare A. P. Merriam and F. H. Garner in Ethnomusicology 12 (1968) 373-96.
The forms jasz   and jascz   are only attested in quot. 1917   above and in texts derived from it; they are unlikely to have had any actual currency. The forms jas and jaz went out of use before the middle of the 20th cent.
Originally U.S. slang.
 A. n.

 1. U.S. slang. Energy, excitement, ‘pep’; restlessness; animation, excitability. Now rare.In early use frequently in contexts relating to baseball; in quots. 19121, 19122   used attributively to describe a deceptively difficult and fast throw.

1912   Los Angeles Times 2 Apr. iii. 2/1   Ben's Jazz Curve... ‘I got a new curve this year... I call it the Jazz ball because it wobbles and you simply can't do anything with it.’
1912   Los Angeles Times 3 Apr. iii. 3/1   Henderson cut the outside corner with a fast curve also for one strike. Benny calls this his ‘jass’ ball.
1913   Bulletin (San Francisco) 6 Mar. 16   What is the ‘jazz’? Why it's a little of that ‘old life’, the ‘gin-i-ker’, the ‘pep’, otherwise known as the enthusiasalum.
1915   Daily Californian 13 Oct. 4/3   This spirit of heartiness is carried to the bleachers... It puts fight into the team, ‘jazz’ into the rooting section, and has helped win games for Stanford and Washington.
1923   L. J. Vance Baroque vi. 34   Only about enough heroin to give every man, woman and child in N'York the jazz for a week.
1928   ‘J. Sutherland’ Knot xii. 163   ‘What is really the matter?’ she asked. ‘You look extraordinarily queer, and you ought to be full of jazz.’
1949   Gaz. & Bull. (Williamsport. Pa.) 17 Aug. 4/7   The jazz, the pep, The giddy whirl Are but a plume that time will furl.
1955   Pop. Sci. Nov. 264/2   A Lincoln-built OHV engine has enough jazz to urge Mark II very nearly as fast as the fastest.
1984   R. Jackson & M. Lupica Reggie 7   I managed to put some jazz in.

1912—1984(Hide quotations)

 2. colloquial (chiefly U.S.).

 a. Unnecessary, misleading, or excessive talk; nonsense, rubbish. In quot. 1930   (in extended use): unnecessary ornamentation.

1913   E. T. Gleeson in Bulletin (San Francisco) 3 Mar. 13/5   McCarl has been heralded all along the line as a ‘busher’, but now it develops that this dope is very much to the ‘jazz’.
1917   Milwaukee (Wisconsin) Jrnl. 6 Apr. 16   You meet a young lady and tell her how extremely well she is looking... Then she responds: ‘Jazz, old fellow, pure jazz! Shut it off and talk regular.’
1918   Dial. Notes 5 25   Jazz, talk; ‘gas’. College students.
1930   E. Pound Draft of XXX Cantos vii. 27   Sham-Memphis columns, And beneath the jazz a cortex, a stiffness or stillness, Shell of the older house.
1958   H. Ellison Deadly Streets 56   What was this jazz about me talkin' to Fairchild.
1987   S. Stark Wrestling Season 78   Will you can it with the new car jazz?
2000   Punch (Nassau, Bahamas) 11 Dec. 27/3 (caption)    Marketing. They feed us that Jazz, hopin' it'll sucker us into buyin' their CD.

1913—2000(Hide quotations)


 b. Something that one regards as hard to describe or understand; (more generally) ‘stuff’, ‘things’. Chiefly depreciative.

1953   D. Wallop Night Light iii. 153   What do you call that jazz, alpaca or something?
1958   ‘E. McBain’ Killer's Choice (1960) iii. 31   ‘How was school today, darling?’ ‘Oh, the same old jazz,’ Monica said.
1969   C. F. Burke God is Beautiful, Man (1970) 20   I asked one of the young men if he understood what had been read from the Bible. His response was that he ‘didn't get that jazz’.
1971   B. Malamud Tenants 165   I read all about that formalism jazz in the library and it's bullshit.
1995   Sydney Morning Herald (Nexis) 20 Mar. (Guide) 10   It's like an army war game exercise—shooting the enemy and slogging it through rough terrain. Thankfully, there isn't any of that technical jazz that ‘enthusiasts’ enjoy so much.

1953—1995(Hide quotations)


 c. and all that jazz: and all that sort of thing; and stuff like that; and so on; et cetera.

[1929   Washington Post 3 June 16/8   Combined with what threatekned [sic] to be merely another exploitation of the recklessness of modern youth there is a bit of high-power police stuff that partialy [sic] takes the curse off all that jazz.]
1956   G. Axelrod Will Success spoil Rock Hunter? I. 25   I ski in Switzerland—blue shadows on white snow and all that jazz.
1960   Punch 9 Mar. 345/1   Politics, world affairs, film stars' babies and all that jazz, the things that the adult world seems obsessed with, do not interest us at all.
1968   B. Turner Sex Trap ix. 69   Always been a good girl and all that jazz, but a bit stage-struck.
1972   J. Porter Meddler & her Murder x. 132   Come to identify the body..and all that jazz.
2000   I. Edward-Jones My Canapé Hell (2001) i. 23   We might, if you're lucky, put your photo on it, and all that jazz.

1956—2000(Hide quotations)


 a. A type of popular music originating (esp. in ragtime and blues) among African Americans in the southern United States, typically performed by ensembles and broadly characterized by regular forceful rhythms, syncopated phrasing, modifications to traditional instrumental tone and pitch (such as the use of blue notes), and improvisatory soloing.Jazz has developed many distinctive subgenres: see acid jazz n., bebop n., Dixieland at Dixie n.2 1c, swing n.2 10b. For free jazz, modern jazz, progressive jazz, trad jazz, etc., see the first element. Cf. also cool adj. 2e   and ragtime n.The influence of jazz on other musical genres is also reflected in the terms treated at Compounds 1b.

1915   Chicago Sunday Tribune 11 July viii. 8/1   The ‘blues’ had done it. The ‘jazz’ had put pep into the legs that had scrambled too long for the 5:15.
1915   Chicago Sunday Tribune 11 July viii. 8/1   ‘What are the blues?’ he asked gently. ‘Jazz!’ The young woman's voice rose high to drown the piano.
1921   Contemp. Rev. Jan. 53   The frank barbarism began its appeal with the nigger minstrels and has landed us in ‘jazz’.
1928   J. Galsworthy Swan Song i. iv. 26   ‘The faster you can move your legs, the more you think you're dancing.’..‘You don't like jazz?’ queried the young lady. ‘I do not,’ said Soames.
1933   Fortune Aug. 47/2   Their use of ‘jazz’ includes both Duke Ellington's Afric brass and Rudy Vallée crooning I'm a Dreamer, Aren't We All?
1948   Pottstown (Pa.) Mercury 14 May 17 (advt.)    Stan Kenton. Eight good instrumental and vocal examples of jazz in the progressive vein.
1955   D. Brubeck in N. Shapiro & N. Hentoff Hear me talkin' to Ya 361   When there is not complete freedom of the soloist, it ceases to be jazz... If it's spontaneous, it's going to be rough, not clean, but it's going to have the spirit which is the essence of jazz.
1966   Transition 27 45   The break with traditional and ‘thirties’ jazz was a severe one, affecting harmonies, dynamics, and the approach to improvisation.
1968   A. Dankworth Jazz 1   Most jazz is in the form of melodic or rhythmic variations upon a theme. The theme is usually a twelve-bar blues melody, the chorus of a popular dance-tune, or a specially composed theme.
1970   Melody Maker 12 Sept. 35/1   Much of the jazz presented by today's innovators avoids the free-flowing 4/4 or 3/4 essence in favour of a beat that is often heavier though not necessarily cruder.
1980   Times 1 July 15/4   Popular music, from jazz to rock, is crucial to twentieth century culture.
1990   Music Theory Spectrum 12 181   Taylor, Coleman, and John Coltrane helped to forge a new era in jazz, characterized by the introduction of harmonic, rhythmic, and timbral freedoms.
2006   Independent on Sunday (Nexis) 16 Apr. (Features section) 12   The grown-ups would sit around listening to jazz and drinking wine.

1915—2006(Hide quotations)


 b.  (a) A piece of jazz music (now rare);  (b) spec. a passage of improvised music in a jazz performance (rare).

1918   Independent (U.S.) 26 Oct. 126/1   Voices call insistently for a ‘hot jazz’, others, frowned upon as sentimentalists, urge ‘Annie Laurie’, still others demand ‘that rattling good march-thing’.
1919   Times 20 Jan. 11/3   The solo pieces had..a quite individual flavour—a ‘Cradle Song’ with a sort of Muscovite tune, followed by ‘the Chosen Tune’, rather of the ‘Londonderry’ type; then a Pastorale, alert and irresponsible, rambling and poetic, and ‘Dansons!’ a Jazz.
1920   Harvey's Weekly 24 July 14/2   That isn't a keynote; it's a jazz.
1921   Ladies' Home Jrnl. Jan. 50   All the latest popular hits..all this season's jolliest jazzes.
1926   A. Niles in W. C. Handy Blues 8   The notes..which follow this rest, fill in the following break, and themselves are called ‘the break’, or ‘the jazz’.
2006   B. Strong Bk. of Poems 62   With a trumpet in his hands, his feet would come alive And you could bop to his original jazzes, blues and jives.

1918—2006(Hide quotations)


 c. Any of various styles of dance performed to or associated with jazz music; spec.  (a) (frequently with the) a ragtime dance (now rare);  (b) a dance form having its roots in popular and theatrical dance and characterized especially by athletic movements and an emphasis on improvisation. Cf. jazz dance n. at Compounds 4.Quot. 19192   was erroneously dated 1909 in O.E.D. Suppl. (1976).

1919   Punch 12 Mar. 193/1   ‘Whitehall’, says a society organ, ‘has succumbed to the Jazz, the Fox-trot and the Bunny-hug.’
1919   C. Stewart Uncle Josh in Society (gramophone-record)    One lady asked me if I danced the jazz.
1919   ‘Monsieur Pierre’ How to Jazz 7   The Jazz is a three-step dance done to four-beat time. The three steps fall on the first three beats of the bar, the third being prolonged to last two beats, namely, the third and fourth. There are three distinct movements, which may be described as the Straight Jazz, the Side Jazz and the Jazz-Roll.
1920   San Antonio (Texas) Light 14 Nov. (headline)    Eskimos dance jazz.
1921   W. Le Queux Secret Telephone iii. 48   I was thoroughly enjoying a delightful jazz with the child.
1960   Educ. Theatre Jrnl. 12 p. vi (advt.)    School of Theatre and Dance..Harriette Ann Gray, dramatic dance, jazz. Mary Clare Sale, ballet.
1979   Dance Res. Jrnl. 11 60/1   Ballet, modern dance, jazz, tap, and International Folk Dance represent the West.
1995   Dance Connection Feb.–Mar. 33/2   Pointe work becomes elastically resilient in an effort to accommodate the hip thrusts of jazz or the floor-scraping movements of modern.

1919—1995(Hide quotations)


 4. U.S. slang. Sexual intercourse; an instance of this. Cf. jazz v. 5, jazzing n. 2. Now rare.

1918   J. Dos Passos Jrnl. 11 Nov. in Fourteenth Chron. (1973) 229   Talk is mainly of seasickness and the possibility of French jazz.
1928   in A. W. Read Lexical Evid. Folk Epigraphy Western N. Amer. (1935) 62   Take your girl out ther..in the bushes for a Jaz.
1934   J. T. Farrell Young Manhood Studs Lonigan xi. 174   You better come with me tonight, and get yourself a fast and furious jazz.
1950   A. Lomax Mister Jelly Roll (1952) 47   Winding Boy is a bit on the vulgar side. Let's see—how could I put it—means a fellow that makes good jazz with the women.
1994   Amer. Lit. Hist. 6 338   A well-known euphemism (jazz for copulation).

1918—1994(Hide quotations)

 B. adj. (chiefly attributive).

 1. Suggestive of jazz (in various senses), jazzy; lively; sophisticated; unconventional.

1917   Los Angeles Times 30 Apr. ii. 4/8   Polly Moran, queen of the jazz comediennes, is the high-power fun maker who keeps things moving at the rate of a million laughs a minute.
1919   Current Opinion Aug. 98/3   Boston is only slightly Jazz.
1922   Glasgow Herald 14 Dec. 5   He has some justification for using this jazz language.
1938   S. M. Bessie (title)    Jazz journalism: the story of the tabloid newspapers.
1964   Washington Post 6 Sept. g5/7   The vocal takes on a slightly jazz sound with riffs and a minor emphasis.
1992   Atlantic Aug. 96/3   It may be Montaigne's most precious gift. That and his jazz spirit, his championing of change, growth, and the provisional nature of any statement.
2007   Daily Record (Glasgow) (Nexis) 24 Aug. 56   With two sax players and a double bass they sound a bit jazz.

1917—2007(Hide quotations)


 2. Of patterns, fabric, clothing, etc.: having a bold or fantastic design; marked by vivid or riotous colouring.

1919   Punch 7 May 357   Jazz stockings are the latest thing.
1923   Daily Mail 5 May 8   Jazz patterns in dress.
1927   R. H. Wilenski Mod. Movement in Art iii. 165   The ‘jazz’ curtains and sunshades..and the prevalence of bright tints in the theatre.
1930   J. Collier His Monkey Wife xiv. 198   Drawing a jazz silk dressing-gown about her shoulders, she went to the bathroom.
1957   H. Croome Forgotten Place 15   A jazz-patterned carpet on the floor.
2004   South Bend (Indiana) Tribune (Nexis) 17 Aug. e6   Students will be finishing more ‘jazz’ jackets and crazy patched vests from the previous semester.

1919—2004(Hide quotations)



 C1. attributive.

 a. General attributive, as jazz aficionado, jazz cult, jazz chord, jazz classic, jazz drumming, jazz great, jazz improvisation, jazz king, jazz legend, jazz-lover, jazz purist, jazz queen, etc.Some of the more established compounds of this type are treated separately.

1917   N.Y. Times 8 Oct. 3/7   Rector's afternoon tea dance in the main dining room from 3 to 6..with Ted Lewis the Jazz King.
1918   Fort Wayne (Indiana) News & Sentinel 8 Apr. 6/2   Benny and Woods on the violin and piano provide some syncopation that gets the jazz lovers going.
1922   Lima (Ohio) News 15 Jan. 6/1   Many new vogues in music have been ushered in, none of them, however, full of life as the jazz cult.
1941   Times 9 Dec. 6/7   A ‘jazz classic’, the ‘St. Louis Blues’, so reorchestrated, had lost its native kick.
1946   Corpus Christi (Texas) Caller-Times 16 June 2 b/2   A jazz purist, he scorns ‘commercial’ music.
1947   Penguin Music Mag. May 30   ‘You can't make a gentleman out of jazz’—a perfectly true statement, and one which all jazz-lovers will applaud.
1956   B. Edwards in S. Traill Play that Music vi. 59   There have been five major stages in jazz-drumming during the last three and a half decades.
1957   K. Rexroth Disengagement in New World Writing No. 11. 30   The innovations of bop, and of Parker particularly, have been vastly overrated by people unfamiliar with music, especially by that ignoramus,..the jazz aficionado.
1963   Music Educators Jrnl. 49 138   The essence of jazz improvisation is the spontaneous creation of a musical idea within a given chord structure.
1977   Washington Post (Nexis) 16 May a5   The MTS Daphne set sail for Havana with jazz greats Dizzy Gillespie, Earl (Fatha) Hines and 400 tourists on board.
1987   Music Educators Jrnl. 74 71/1   Certain fairly common jazz chords such as those that use raised or lowered ninths are left out.
1992   K. J. Bindas America's Musical Pulse iv. xviii. 189   Dizzy Gillespie, a living jazz legend, had similar problems a decade later playing bebop in Cab Calloway's black swing band.
2004   Contemp. Sociol. 33 456/2   Jazz aficionados may not like this view.
2006   AARP Mag. July–Aug. 18   The R&B star adds a passionate gospel undertow to..songs made famous by jazz queens.

1917—2006(Hide quotations)


 b. Designating types of music which combine elements of jazz and another musical genre, as jazz blues, jazz funk, jazz rap, jazz-rock, etc.

1915   Chicago Sunday Tribune 11 July viii. 8/1   Saxophone players since the advent of the ‘jazz blues’ have taken to wearing ‘jazz collars’.
1916   (title of song)    Jazz rag.
1916   Daily Illini (Univ. Illinois) 4 Oct. 6 (advt.)    The jazziest of all jaz [sic] tunes, played on the banjo, guitar, saxaphone, violin and piano.
1953   Redlands (Calif.) Daily Facts 30 Apr. 2/6   An unusual..jazz-bop album.
1970   Americana Ann. 578   The year [sc. 1969] was flooded with such new combinations as jazz-rock, folk-rock, and country-rock.
1974   New Musical Express 9 Nov. 26   A Beckified version of the currently ultra-flash jazz-funk stuff that the likes of Billy Cobham and Herbie Hancock are peddling these days.
1983   Times 30 July 7/4   Among the ranks of Britain's few jazz-blues organists.
1995   Unique June 64/2   One of the more satisfying house crossover genres, jazz house stomps in a club-friendly way.
2000   Big Issue 17 July 10/3   Those stonking jazz-funk sound-tracks with more chilli in them than soul-food.
2007   Time Out N.Y. 11 Jan. 125/1   We expect you're in for some superchopsy jazz-rock rather than anything remotely classical.

1915—2007(Hide quotations)


 (a) Designating or relating to instruments used in jazz music, as jazz banjo, jazz clarinet, jazz drum, jazz guitar, jazz piano, jazz trumpet, jazz saxophone, etc.

1917   Los Angeles Times 30 July ii. 1 (advt.)    A combination of the sweet, dreamy tone of the Ukulele blended with that of the Tenor or ‘Jazz’ Banjo—it is simply irresistible!
1921   Tribune (Oakland, Calif.) 10 July x. 4/6   New $78.50 set jazz drums; sacrifice for $50 if taken at once.
1946   Notes 2nd Ser. 4 71   The rattling of tommy guns and the snarls of mobsters blending with the cry of the jazz clarinet.
1956   M. W. Stearns Story of Jazz (1957) vi. 65   [High Society] has become a standard solo for jazz clarinet whenever the tune is played.
1963   A. Baraka Blues People xii. 197   Basie's efforts helped move jazz piano away from the older ‘stride’ style with its heavy insistence on an almost guitar-like left hand.
1984   Times 3 Mar. 17/2   Classic mainstream jazz trumpet from a veteran of the Count Basie orchestra.
1994   Early Music 22 177/2   He still teaches jazz saxophone at the Mussorgsky College of Music.
2005   Smithsonian Jan. 58/2   Peterson was still a teenager when he had what he calls his first ‘bruising’ with Art Tatum, considered by many the father of jazz piano.

1917—2005(Hide quotations)


 (b) Designating performers of jazz music, as jazz clarinetist, jazz drummer, jazz guitarist, jazz pianist, jazz player, jazz saxophonist, jazz soloist, jazz trumpeter, jazz vocalist, etc.See also jazz musician n., jazz singer n. at Compounds 3.

1917   Sandusky (Ohio) Star-Jrnl. 10 June 6/4   Vocal Solo The Liberated Jazz Drummer or fun in a Junk Shop.
1924   Helena (Montana) Independent 31 Mar. 2/2   A jazz soloist..sang ‘Carolina in the Morning’ to radio fans 10,000 miles away in Melbourne, Australia.
1939   W. Hobson Amer. Jazz Music 30   Traditionalists accuse the jazz players..and the jazz men accuse the traditionalists.
1949   L. Feather Inside Be-bop i. 6   The single-note solo style was a complete departure from the pattern of solos in chords established by..conventional jazz guitarists.
1958   New Statesman 25 Jan. 102/3   Jazz-players and promoters..are so much more difficult to handle than the good old-fashioned pit and palais musicians.
1963   A. Baraka Blues People x. 146   Jelly Roll Morton, one of the first jazz pianists, was heavily influenced by the ragtime style.
1971   Times 7 July 16/7 (headline)    Louis Armstrong. The greatest jazz trumpeter of his time.
1978   Jrnl. Amer. Folklore 91 740   Other pieces are performed by jazz vocalists and female blues singers.
1984   Black Perspective in Music 12 51   The jazz saxophonist cultivates a raspy tone quality.
1996   Japan Times 29 Apr. 8/4   French jazz clarinetist Claude Luter presented the award.
2004   N.Y. Times 24 Oct. ii. 29/1   He apparently had no desire to learn how to improvise through chord changes, the most basic obligation of a jazz saxophonist.

1917—2004(Hide quotations)


 (c) Designating groups which perform jazz music, as jazz combo, jazz ensemble, jazz quartet, jazz quintet, jazz sextet, jazz trio, etc.See also jazz band n., jazz orchestra n. at Compounds 3.

1918   Daily Courier (Connellsville, Pa.) 11 Mar. 8/3   The Flemings are also a feature as is..a jazz trio that sings three separate songs at the same time.
1923   San Antonio (Texas) Express 2 Oct. 1/1   They have about as much privacy as the saxophone player in a jazz quartet while the four are jazzing.
1958   J. Steinbeck Once there was War p. xix   One of the finest jazz combos I ever heard.
1973   Gramophone Jan. 1394/1   They know all about how brasses should phrase and fit together in a jazz ensemble.
1984   Times 15 Nov. 15/7   Has Miss Moreau..come across my early compositions at school for jazz quintet which were so difficult to play that the quintet disbanded rather than face another rehearsal?
2007   Guardian (Nexis) 9 Nov. 6   Self-proclaimed death-jazz act Soil & ‘Pimp’ Sessions..are in essence a relatively straight jazz sextet with an over-eager marketing department.

1918—2007(Hide quotations)


 C2. With adjectives and participles, as jazz-conscious, jazz-influenced, jazz-loving, jazz mad, jazz-minded, jazz-oriented, jazz-struck, jazz-tinged, etc.

1919   Fort Wayne (Indiana) News & Sentinel 21 Apr. 16/3   There are sixty-five men in the band and a surprising number of instruments to produce the music that set all France jazz mad.
1939   L. Jacobs Rise of Amer. Film xvi. 392   Pictures had taken over the attributes and point of view of a jazz-conscious world.
1947   R. de Toledano Frontiers of Jazz vii. 82   The jazz-struck kids who are today the core of the non-commercial white bands.
1956   M. W. Stearns Story of Jazz (1957) xvii. 201   Jazz-loving record buyers wore out the grooves.
1977   C. McKnight & J. Tobler Bob Marley ix. 121   Anderson's stinging jazz-tinged wah wah guitar takes the solo honours.
1986   Amer. Music 4 292   Copland was most frequently discussed as a jazz-influenced composer as opposed to a modernist or Americanist.
1995   P. Manuel in P. Manuel et al. Caribbean Currents 251 (Gloss.)   Latin jazz , a predominantly instrumental, latter twentieth-century genre featuring jazz-oriented solos over Afro-Cuban rhythms.
2007   News & Rec. (Greensboro, N. Carolina) (Nexis) 26 Apr. b2   One of the smoothest bunches of jazz-minded misfits I've ever heard.

1919—2007(Hide quotations)

 C3. See also jazzman n.

  jazz ballet   n.

1922   N.Y. Times 18 Jan. 21 (advt.)    Carpenter's jazz ballet and other new ballets danced by Adolph Bolm.
1972   Times 16 May 14/8   We have a jazz ballet by a Canadian choreographer, set to music that uses a string quartet and a rock quartet.
1993   Sat. Night (Toronto) June 32/3   Jazz ballet took over the musicals, rock 'n' roll was too noisy, TV too small and too stingy with the required sound engineering.

1922—1993(Hide quotations)


  jazz band   n.

1916   Chicago Herald 1 May 4/4   The shriek of women's drunken laughter rivaled the blatant scream of the imported New Orleans Jass Band, which never seemed to stop playing.
1956   M. W. Stearns Story of Jazz (1957) vii. 71   The 101 Ranch, a cabaret which employed many jazz-bands, was particularly famous.
2005   Daily Tel. 1 Nov. 28/3   For those who have never encountered Macbeth, this perverse version..accompanied by the ghastly discordant noodlings of a three-piece contemporary jazz band, will be entirely incomprehensible.

1916—2005(Hide quotations)


  jazz club   n.

1917   Spiker 25 Dec. 10/3   H. Williams, Rickard, Putney, Short, Hermann and Duncan were the Jazz Club entertainment committee.
1958   New Statesman 25 Jan. 102/3   Our native music..still flourishes nightly in the jazz-clubs, though best in those where musicians..like to drop in for a little drinking, gossiping, watching the dancers..and perhaps sitting in with the band.
1997   H. Kureishi Love in Blue Time 2   He knew the happenin' cinemas, jazz clubs, parties.

1917—1997(Hide quotations)


  jazz fan   n.

1919   Tatler Apr. 2/1   And jazz! Ye gods! Perdition simply yawns for the jazz fan!
1928   Chicago Defender 28 Jan. 3 (advt.)    Every jazz fan will want this new February record.
1958   D. Halperin in P. Gammond Decca Bk. Jazz xx. 241   Calling the young man..a jazz-fan would be off-centre: he is, rather, a jazz convert.
2006   N.Y. Times (National ed.) 7 Sept. b9/1   Her father, a jazz fan, played June Christy's recording of ‘Great Scot’.

1919—2006(Hide quotations)


  jazz festival   n.

1919   Indianapolis Sunday Star 16 Nov. v. 3/1   Here's a real jazz festival, introducing the world's champion girl trap drummer.
1959   ‘F. Newton’ Jazz Scene xi. 184   ‘Jazz festivals’—in Newport, Conn., in Nice, Cannes, San Remo and other European holiday resorts.
2003   N.Y. Times (National ed.) 4 May ii. 29/4   Rock promoters have learned quite a bit from long-running events like jazz festivals.

1919—2003(Hide quotations)


  jazz joint   n.

1920   San Antonio (Texas) Evening News 3 Dec. (Home ed.) 11/3   Fatty Arbuckle in a Mont Marie jazz joint where he was greeted by cheering audiences.
1942   L. V. Berrey & M. Van den Bark Amer. Thes. Slang §366/4   Dance hall,..jazz joint.
1996   Vanity Fair (N.Y.) Oct. 218   The same issue [of the magazine] introduced a new term, lifted from the lingo of jazz joints: ‘cool’.

1920—1996(Hide quotations)


  jazz land   n.

1917   Warren (Pa.) Evening Mirror 11 Sept. 5/4   Sam Sing may become a dancing teacher and by interpreting jazz chopstick arias soon gain a competence and return to Jazz land and live happily ever afterwards.
1942   L. V. Berrey & M. Van den Bark Amer. Thes. Slang §578/2   Jazzland, the world of jazz.
2000   Wired Feb. 190/4   Petrucciani's crisp, bluesy style and his knack for lyrical improv will be missed in jazzland.

1917—2000(Hide quotations)


  jazz music   n.

1916   Chicago Chem. Bull. Nov. 155/1   Boisterous ‘jass’ music is played at the doors of our assembly rooms.
1941   B. Schulberg What makes Sammy Run? iii. 46   It made me realize again how true jazz music was, how it echoed everything that was churning inside us.
1973   Listener 19 Apr. 522/2   The excitement in jazz music is usually concerned with nerve.
2003   G. Burn North of Eng. Home Service (2004) iv. 136   They blew twenty-five shillings in the Potomac listening to Claes's Claepigeons playing a kind of boop-de-boop jazz music that wasn't strictly to either of their tastes.

1916—2003(Hide quotations)


  jazz musician   n.

1917   Sun (N.Y.) 5 Aug. iii. 3/7   The jazz musicians and their auditors have the most rhythmic aggressiveness.
1958   R. Horricks in P. Gammond Decca Bk. Jazz ix. 117   The legendary Art Tatum loved to jam with the resident jazz musicians.
2004   S. Dudley Calypso Music in Trinidad iii. 47   Jazz musicians will recognize the second half of this chord progression as ‘rhythm changes’ named for the George Gershwin song ‘I Got Rhythm’.

1917—2004(Hide quotations)


  jazz opera   n.

1918   Reno (Nevada) Evening Gaz. 8 Dec. 4/4   A jazz opera with..an all star cast.
1970   New Yorker 29 Aug. 22/2   Recently, I [sc. Rolf Liebermann] commissioned a jazz opera, because I think that is a way to make contact with..young people.
1999   BBC Music Mag. Apr. 51/2   When Ellington died on 24 May 1974 he had just completed a jazz opera.

1918—1999(Hide quotations)


  jazz orchestra   n.

[1915   Chicago Examiner 22 May 17/5 (advt.)    The original jad orchestra for dancing.]
1916   San Francisco Chron. 28 Aug. 2 (advt.)    Techau Tavern... The Jazz Orchestra, under the leadership of Mr. George Gould, San Francisco's newest and most sensational find, for the dance lovers.
1925   Scribner's Mag. July 45/1   The faint echo of a jazz orchestra in the background.
1942   L. V. Berrey & M. Van den Bark Amer. Thes. Slang §576/27   Jazz King, Paul Whiteman, jazz orchestra leader.
1995   Grand Royal No. 2. 29/2   I've heard Dixon leading Free Jazz orchestras into sonic symphonic heavens. Very hardcore.

1916—1995(Hide quotations)


  jazz record   n.

1917   Indianapolis Star 7 Nov. 4 (advt.)    Another Jazz record that has all the old noises and a few new ones added.
1923   H. Crane Let. 5 Dec. (1965) 159   We had a Victrola... Lots of jazz records, etc.
1999   New Statesman 8 Nov. 42/2   Jazz records have often been defined not so much by their players as by their labels.

1917—1999(Hide quotations)


  jazz scene   n.

1922   Lethbridge (Alberta) Herald 20 Aug. (Accent Mag.) 8/5   Streatside Eatery Jazz Scene, Wednesday and Thursday; 8 p.m.
1969   Gandalf's Garden iv. 9/1   I was originally on the jazz scene and in a terrible state.
2006   Prospect Aug. 5/2   Here in Oxford's jazz scene..understanding such basics as chord sequences and the cycle of fifths is as essential as ever.

1922—2006(Hide quotations)


  jazz singer   n.

1916   Chicago Defender 30 Sept. 3 (caption)    Estelle Harris..appears at the Grand Theater next week with her jass singers and dancers.
1927   (title of film)    The jazz singer.
1929   A. Huxley Do what you Will 57   He is employed as a jazz-singer on the music-hall stage.
1969   Daily Tel. 21 Apr. 17/7   No hard boundaries exist to separate jazz singers from run-of-the-mill night club performers.
2005   Metro 26 Sept. (London ed.) 34/5   He is the Starbucks of music: a so-called jazz singer for people who hate jazz.

1916—2005(Hide quotations)


  jazz song   n.

1917   Daily Courier (Connellsville, Pa.) 30 Oct. 6/2   Lew Lewis is a really funny blackface comedian and his jazz song is a hummer.
1923   H. Crane Let. 9 May (1965) 133   Marvelous jazz songs, jokes, etc.
1996   Denver Post 16 June a2/3   Her repertory encompassed show tunes, jazz songs, novelties.., bossa nova, and even opera.

1917—1996(Hide quotations)


  jazz tune   n.

1917   Chicago Sunday Tribune 19 Aug. i. 16/6 (headline)    Hotel La Salle stops playing of jazz tunes.
1960   Amer. Q. 12 505   This is a jazz tune rather than a popular song made over into jazz.
2006   Time Out N.Y. 30 Nov. 94/4   Expect everything from 78 rpm jazz tunes to obscure fuzz-rock.

1917—2006(Hide quotations)


  jazz age   n. (frequently with capital initials) a period regarded as characterized by the popularity of jazz; spec. (frequently with reference to the United States) the period between the end of the First World War (1918) and the Great Depression of the 1930s, which was marked by economic prosperity, and dynamic cultural and social change (cf. jazz era n.).

1920   Dunkirk (N.Y.) Evening Observer 23 Nov. 2/1   We are living in a jazz age and I wonder if a jazz church ought not to be the next development.
1922   F. S. Fitzgerald (title)    Tales of the jazz age.
1925   J. Dos Passos Manhattan Transfer iii. v. 391   This young woman..led away by the temptations of cruel and voracious men and the excitement and wickedness of what has been too well named, the jazz age.
1959   T. Griffith Waist-high Culture (1960) iii. 31   In the years between the Armistice and the stock-market crash, came the period we used to call..the Jazz Age.
1999   D. Haslam Manchester, Eng. ii. 62   Married women, especially, had been invested with too many mundane responsibilities to enjoy the Jazz Age.

1920—1999(Hide quotations)


  jazz baby   n. (chiefly with reference to the 1920s) a devotee of jazz; esp. a flapper, a fashionable young woman interested in jazz music and dancing, and frequently regarded as somewhat dissolute.

1919   B. Merrill Jazz Baby (sheet music)    I'm a Jazz baby, I want to be jazzing all the time.
1920   C. Bayha Jazz Babies' Ball (sheet music) 4   Sweet Jazz babies short and tall, Will be moochin' round the hall.
1932   Circleville (Ohio) Herald 17 June   I couldn't stand one of those jazz babies that anybody could get, and no girl on your level would want to marry me.
1964   M. McLuhan Understanding Media (1967) ii. xxxi. 348   Baseball..will always remain a symbol of the era of the hot mommas, jazz babies..and the fast buck.
1987   Amer. Music 5 455   Barnet, like many jazz babies who grew up in the 1920s, parlayed his tenor saxophone, raccoon coat, and taste for la dolce vita into a career of hot music and hot living.
1989   Dance Chron. 12 313   The nondrinking, nonsmoking young bride lapses into a thoroughgoing jazz baby.
2003   Sunday Mail (Brisbane) 14 Dec. 80/1 (heading)    More than 350 fashion icons, ragtraders, promoters, jazz babies, cool dudes and fresh-as-tomorrow faces frolicked at the Dally's Model Agency Christmas party.

1919—2003(Hide quotations)


  jazz chant   n. (in English language teaching) a sequence of rhythmic phrases chanted by students in unison, often with accompanying music, as an exercise for learning intonation and cadence.In quot. 1921: a poem employing rhythm and sound in a manner likened to jazz music.

1921   Standard Jan. 130/1   It seems to us as absurd to find beauty in the Spoon River Anthology, in Chicago Poems, in the jazz chants of Vachel Lindsay, as it is unjust to expect beauty.
1978   C. Graham (title)    Jazz chants.
1984   Eng. Jrnl. 73 44/1   I use any method that works: audio-lingual dialogue memorization, dictations,..jazz chants, [etc.].
2004   Childhood Educ. (Nexis) 22 Dec. 104   To help children learn intonation and pronunciation of the new language, jazz chants..can be accompanied with clapping, marching, and drumming.

1921—2004(Hide quotations)


  jazz cigarette   n. slang (originally and chiefly British) a marijuana cigarette.

1992   Herald (Glasgow) 19 Dec. 2/2   ‘Anybody fancy rolling up some jazz cigarettes?’.. So they put some records on and got themselves fine and mellow.
2002   H. Ritchie Friday Night Club (2003) iii. v. 265   Hey, that a jazz cigarette you're smoking?

1992—2002(Hide quotations)


  jazz critic   n. a person who reviews recordings and performances of jazz music, esp. professionally.In quot. 1919: a book critic who writes in a style likened to jazz music.

1919   Dial 23 Aug. 155   A jazz critic... As for the English in which this book is written, it is indescribable... We can hear its counterpart already in the performances of any Jazz band.
1925   Washington Post 15 Mar. (Mag. section) 3 (caption)    The jazz critic says, ‘That's a wow.’
2003   J. Murray Jazz x. 202   The music (and some jazz critics protested it wasn't even that) moved ‘forward’, but only as echoing, resonant, hypnotic amplitudes.

1919—2003(Hide quotations)


  jazz dance   n. = sense A. 3c.

1917   N.Y. Times 8 Mar. 9 (advt.)    Original ‘jazz’ dance and Cuben Danzon..in America's most beautiful ballroom.
1919   Punch 30 Apr. 333/3   An early bather was seen executing the Jazz-dance on the beach at Ventnor on Easter Monday.
1963   Spectator 27 Dec. 852/1   In America the jazz-dance..has a validity as..a pop-art expression of one side of the national culture.
2006   Time Out N.Y. 16 Feb. 54/2   This specific brand of ‘-ercise’ combines elements of jazz dance, resistance training, Pilates..and other programs to create a fitness experience for every age and level.

1917—2006(Hide quotations)


  jazz dancer   n. a person who performs jazz dance.

1917   Los Angeles Times 18 Sept. ii. 4/3   A bunch of hectic and inflamed jazz dancers would make the bleachers at a big college game seem..peaceful.
2006   B. P. McCutchen Teaching Dance as Art in Educ. iii. 45/1   Are you a ballerina, a jazz dancer, a Bharata Natyam dancer?

1917—2006(Hide quotations)


  jazz dancing   n. = jazz dance n.; the action of performing this.

1917   Los Angeles Times 18 Sept. ii. 4/3   Jazz dancing is a cross between an explosion and a foot race and is another of the crimes indirectly traceable to the jazz band.
1963   Spectator 27 Dec. 852/1   The so-called jazz-dancing which has insidiously crept into our ballet repertory.
1999   D. Haslam Manchester, Eng. 290   The defenders of high culture considered short skirts and jazz dancing as evidence of spiritual emptiness.

1917—1999(Hide quotations)


  jazz era   n. (also with capital initials) = jazz age n.

1919   Eng. Rev. Dec. 495   For Mr. Moore to withdraw in the full blast of the jazz era does seem rather..backwards.
1946   M. Mezzrow & B. Wolfe Really Blues ix. 138   The Jazz Era's heyday had been here and gone.
2003   D. A. Jasen Tin Pan Alley 330   The two would write many of the greatest hits of the jazz era.

1919—2003(Hide quotations)


  jazz fusion   n. any of various types of music that combine elements of jazz and another musical genre; spec. = jazz-rock at Compounds 1b; cf. fusion n. Additions.

[1938   Atlanta Const. 14 May Sunday Mag. 8/1   There’s quite a lot to these intriguing numbers which are a sort of fusion of jazz and the classics.
1968   N.Y. Amsterdam News 22 June 18/4   The group’s interest in jazz-rock fusion is evident in long solo and group improvisations.]
1976   Washington Post 1 Mar. b9/3   The music generated, representative of the latest wave of jazz fusions, might well be called boogie jazz.
1976   N.Y. Times 29 Aug. d15/5   Picking a careful path between jazz fusion and straight jazz, New Audiences has managed to line up three concerts for the fall season.
2006   Loaded Dec. 53/2   Neither a piano, nor a synthesiser, the advent of Keytars meant jazz fusion could finally be sexy.

1976—2006(Hide quotations)


  jazz hand   n. a gesture in which the hand is held with the palm facing forward and the fingers splayed (often while waving rapidly back and forth), usually performed as part of a dance routine; chiefly in plural.

1978   J. Missett & D. Z. Meilach Jazzercise 30   Jazz Hands are strong!
1990   San Francisco Chron. 10 Sept. b4/2   Lift your chins. When you hit out in your ‘T’, keep your elbow up strong, jazz hands. Pop your hip.
2000   M. Albo Hornito 46   A bunch of faggy guys in sequins..doing Bob Fosse jazz-hand routines.
2007   Times (Nexis) 8 Oct. (T2 section) 12   I love the fact that it's not Oklahoma, where you end on some big song and dance number doing your ‘jazz hands’.

1978—2007(Hide quotations)


  jazz poem   n. a poem having stylistic features suggestive of jazz, such as syncopated rhythms or an improvisatory feel; (also) a poem recited or song sung to the accompaniment of jazz.

1917   Warren (Pa.) Evening Mirror 11 Sept. 5/3   The jazz poem tone that sounds like a cross between a boiler shop and a foundry symphony, will..find expression in the dance.
1923   M. Cowley Let. 8 Nov. in Sel. Corr. K. Burke & M. Cowley (1988) 147   I wrote a jazz poem in jazzy prose and swore I should write no more verse.
1960   Guardian 21 Nov. 7/7   A ‘jazz poem’ read at a recital of modern poetry and jazz.
2005   Observer (Nexis) 2 Oct. (Review section), 11   Backed by Nina Simone-like piano, Odetta made a beseeching jazz poem of 'Mr Tambourine Man'.

1917—2005(Hide quotations)


  jazz poetry   n. poetry of this sort.

1919   Life 27 Feb. 345   We have Jazz Poetry, or free verse, and Jazz Dancing, which is the free verse of motion.
1959   Listener 26 Mar. 567/3   In the current craze for jazz poetry a mistaken attempt is made to bend the verse to the last of the music.
2007   Boston (Mass.) Herald (Nexis) 10 June 33   Often the night felt like a jazz poetry reading.

1919—2007(Hide quotations)


  jazz tap   n. a style of tap dancing performed to jazz music or rhythms; a dance in this style.

1936   Chicago Defender 8 Feb. 7/6   First to be introduced was..Gloria Jackson, who did a jazz tap.
1971   Los Angeles Times 16 May h7/1 (heading)    Park offers dance class in jazz tap.
2000   D. Kirby House on Boulevard St. (2007) 111   You will definitely wake to Emily's senescent jazz-tap routines.

1936—2000(Hide quotations)




  ˈjazz-like adj.

1920   Christian Sci. Monitor 17 June 14/4   The chargers of the Horse Guards and Lancers showed remarkable proficiency in their new jazz-like caracole around the arena.
1923   K. P. Harrington Catullus & his Infl. ii. 48   Catullus has left us his amazing mastery of the baffling Galliambics, in the unique Attis, where we can hear, as it were, the jazz-like echo of the drums and cymbals.
1978   Globe & Mail (Toronto) (Nexis) 23 Jan.   It opened with a careful and precise exploration of the harmonies the four instruments could achieve in an atonal construction, but then moved into a swinging jazz-like tribute.
1999   Guardian 21 Aug. (Travel section) 3/1   A series of jazz-like improvisations.

1920—1999(Hide quotations)