jazzdepo at ix.netcom.com
Tue Jan 17 11:00:50 EST 2012
I would not presume to comment on Mr. Payton's obviously deeply-felt
thoughts on jazz but when Mr. Thomas states with certainty that 'jazz'
"means 'jack-ass'" he is quite wrong.
There has been much speculation on the origin of the word jazz and while I
don't claim to know all the latest scholarly tomes on the subject I have
never seen a contraction of jack-ass put forward as a possibility.
Buddy Bolden's first name was Charles and some claim that it was derived
Others claim it comes from the word "jasmine" which was the scent most
popular with the working girls of Storyville. The phrase, "I'm going to get
me some jas tonight," used jas as a euphemism for sex and the word, like
most slang terms, was broadened to include any number of things.
Some scholars believe the word goes back to African or Arabic roots while
other cite the French word "jaser" which means "to chatter."
Other legends abound - vaudevillian Joe Frisco is said to to have coined the
phrase while the proprietor of Schiller's in Chicago gets the credit in one
story and there must be dozens of others. Nick LaRocca claimed that "Jass"
became "Jazz" when they started advertising it on posters and neighborhood
kids would wipe out the 'J'.
The true origins of the word have no doubt been lost to the mists of time
and we shall never know where it came from. If Mr. Thomas has a source for
"jack-ass" I would very much like to see it. My nay-saying is for the sake
of accuracy, not to be confrontational. In any event, some of the
possibilities I HAVE seen are no better, and some are worse, than 'jack-ass'
to be sure.
As for denying its dignity - I am sure there were many in those early days
who wished to do so - this ruinous devil's music which would surely lead one
down the path to perdition was to be avoided at all cost! But for others it
associating the music with the way of the flesh and wild physical &
emotional abandon only made it as desirable as all forbidden fruit and, most
important to some, marketable.
American Classical Music? hmmm....I wonder what Aaron Copland would say?
From: Larry Thomas
Sent: Monday, January 16, 2012 9:58 AM
To: jazzproglist at jazzweek.com
Subject: RE: [JPL] BAM
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I have been hesitant to response to this subject because most people who
know me know I don't call this music "jazz," a term that was given to it to
deny it its dignity. It means "jack-ass." I call it American Classical
Music, and so does Ahmad Jamal and others who perform it. I don't see a
thing wrong with musicians such Nicholas Payton calling it BAM. It would be
very arrogant, ignorant, racist and done right wrong for me to deny this
music its dignity. Thank you Nick and keep on keeping on!
Larry Reni Thomas
WHAT IS JAZZ? by LARRY RENI THOMAS
Jazz is a term that was given to American classical music around 1900, by
the New Orleans aristocrats who after visiting the whorehouses and hearing
the black musicians play the sounds of freedom, sought to deny it its
dignity when they realized that they couldn't play it and that their
associates could not play it either. It has never belonged to black people
nor will it ever. When the aristocrats realized that they could exploit it
and make money off of it, the music, which is a reflection of the
African-American musical reaction to the modern era, they took it over and
have controlled it ever since. The first recorded "j-ass" (short for
jack-ass) recording was performed by a group of people who the aristocrats
selected. It would have been unthinkable and unprofitable to use black
people to record black music.
American classical music has always had trouble with its African-American
core because it has always been given a negative meaning. I interviewed Art
"Buhania" Blakey several years ago after a concert at Duke University and he
was highly ticked off because there were almost no black people in
attendance. When I asked him was there a conspiracy to keep the music away
from black people, he said, "Hell, no!" Buhania went on to say that black
people don't particularly like it and have been told by black preachers not
to listen to the music because it was "devil's music."
I have been a jazz radio announcer/writer for three decades and have heard
many blacks tell me that they don't like jazz because it moves too fast or
slow, there is not enough soulful singing, or that white folks like it.
These are all absurd reasons of course, but that's reality. How do we solve
it? How do we reverse decades of fear and ignorance? Good questions. Maybe
we should ask the aristocrats--the 10 families or .001% of the world who run
things. The answer is to keep on doing what we are doing by promoting it,
playing it on the radio and by posing such questions and challenging the
status quo when they keep trying to make it something that it isn't. It is
BLACK MUSIC and it will continue to be for another 100 years. Just like we
know that the Old Dixieland Jass Band was some watered down, mediocre music,
we will know that most of the music we hear these days that passes itself
off as American classical music (jazz) is as fake as a three-dollar bill.
> Date: Mon, 16 Jan 2012 09:23:22 -0500
> From: dreamtrane at gmail.com
> To: jazzproglist at jazzweek.com
> Subject: [JPL] BAM
> THIS WEEK'S SPONSOR: The JazzWeek relaunch -- JazzWeek 2.0 -- crowdfunding
> project has launched. Visit http://www.indiegogo.com/jazzweek for more
> information. Become part of the solution.
> There's been some fuss over the new BAM sticker slapped on the music. To
> put the topic in context, check out this recent blog post by Nicholas
> Fiery, provocative, acerbic. But you see the mind set of the man.
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