When did the word
"jazz" first appear in mainland UK
My sister recently presented me a copy of a new jazz book 'Tracking Jazz - The Ulster Way' by Brian Dempster. Very interesting reading - it appears I missed an awful lot of really amazing jazz by 'emigrating' to England in the Fifties ! A piece that really grabbed my attention was, that a band calling itself the 'Glenarm Jazz Band', played a gig at the Glenarm Orange Hall on the 25th. April 1925. This ' is an indication that for the very first time in Northern Ireland the word jazz had emerged in any noteworthy musical forum'. Makes me wonder if it is known when the word jazz first emerged in a band name on mainland UK? No doubt some of your usual ' minds of knowledge' will know ! Incidentally, that Glenarm venture took place 'just 6 months before 24 year old Louis Armstrong had cut the first recordings under his own name'
Re., Norman Gibson's message about early usage of the term 'jazz'. I may be barking up the wrong tree, but I'd think it unlikely that a jazz band, as we understand the term, would have played somewhere like Glenarm that far back. Two possibilities spring to mind. First of all, there was a proliferation of kazoo bands in England in the 1930s, and they often called themselves jazz bands. I'm wondering whether our friends in Glenarm might have been an early example of one of these. Secondly, and more probably, it was common all over Britain, as well as Ireland, to describe ballroom dance bands as jazz, at one time. Indeed, I can remember the Joe Loss band and similar being so called as late as the 1950s. In Ireland, the ascription was particularly marked because the establishment, north and south of the border, believed that this was an unwelcome foreign import, and it was corrupting the morals of young people. -
In response to Norman Gibson's request for the first use of the term "Jazz Band" in mainland UK, the earliest I have discovered (so far) is 5th July 1918. This was the Liberty Jazz Band at a banquet given by the US 835th Aero Squadron at their base "somewhere in England". I suspect this was an internal forces outfit, probably made up from members of a military band.
11/11/12 - Hi Fred,
Re: Fred McCormick's response yesterday, I am aware that early bands in America, calling themselves 'This or That' Jazz Band, played their music mainly for the purpose of dancing. After all, the first recorded description of 'jazz' in the press, described it as 'dance music with vigor and pep' (US spelling). Brian Dempster has been a long term jazz musician and respected journalist in NI and I trust his recording of the Glenarm 'Jazz' band. Perhaps I was not clear in my earlier e-mail, in that I was curious as to the earliest date a mainland UK band had the word 'Jazz' in it's name ! -
14/11/12 - Hi Fred,
There is plenty of stuff available about the history of the word jazz, but in many ways it was about marketing/promoting your band because jazz was popular and many of the public had no idea what jazz really was, it was just popular. the word 'blues' was just the same, in America it became very popular and their are hundreds of tunes that are not strictly blues with the 'blues' tagged on just to sell them, musicians who visit your web site will be well aware of this.
A perusal of Brian Rust's Jazz Records 1897 - 1942 will unearth some answers to the earliest UK bands to have 'Jazz' in their band name and their recordings. Moe Green's statement of the influence of the ODJB is spot on. Their 'sound' was the predominant influence on all 'jazz bands' in the UK for nearly a decade. We had to wait another twenty years before King Oliver, Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong had any influence in formulating a style for British jazz bands. Unfortunately the 'race card' is now the major factor when it comes to discussing who 'invented' jazz and P. C. brigade are now adament that the 'men of colour' (seems to be the new P. C. termanology) were the creators of jazz. For those with any real insight into the 'New Orleans melting pot' of the early 1900s, will tell you that is wasn't about 'race'. It was a musical art form that all 'colours' contributed to. Don't believe everything that Wynton Marsalis tells you!
15/11/12 - Hello Fred,
with interest the items from Norman Gibson and Fred McCormick
about the usage of the term 'jazz' in Northern Ireland. Always
intrigued by the origin of the word 'jazz', I dug into Herbert
Asbury's book 'The Gangs of New Orleans'.
15/11/12 - Hi
18/11/12 - Hi Fred,
the military band mentioned by Fred is undoubtedly Jim Europe's 369th. Infantry Band the " Hellfighters " They recorded a number of tracks for Pathe Freres Phonograph Co. of Brooklyn in 1919 including " St. Louis Blues ". You should check out their " Down Home Rag " recorded in Dec. 1913. Frantic doesn't come close to describing the tempo ! Europe's musicians were expert readers but at the time the white folks didn't like to think the darkies were that clever so the band had to memorise the arrangements and play without music ! As for the word jazz. A plaque on the dock in New Orleans states that it originated with the J. S. Sreckfus Line which used to employ bands for dancing. When one of their sternwheelers was coming in the kids used to run about crying " here come the J. S. " In Louisiana the word jazz is usually pronounced " jayezz but this is tenuous in the extreme. It will have to join all the other suggestions. Enjoyable as it is I doubt the search for its origin will ever be decided but we keep on digging.
19/11/12 - Hi Fred
I have to say that I have been amused at how long the word 'jazz', and it's origins, has been discussed before that thoroughly delightful little friend and gentleman Joe Silmon, has come up with the answer to the question I posed ! That is, the first band on mainland UK to have 'jazz' in it's name, would appear to have been the Styal 'Jazz' Band which played in Styal Cheshire in 1918 ! Unless, of course, someone knows better ! This reply, I should add, is not by way of a complaint, as I have thoroughly enjoyed reading all the subscribers' contributions. We can all learn something new everyday and I do thank them. -