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“Jazz”: etymologylocked

  • Krin Gabbard

Extract

“Jazz” (and its variants: jas, jass, jascz, jasz, jaz) is a term of indeterminate origin and multifaceted meaning. There is some certainty, however, that the word first appeared in print in about 1913. Throughout its history, jazz has carried a wide range of significations in spite of efforts by writers and critics to confine its meaning to specific styles of music. Those who have worked hardest at stabilizing the meaning have often been driven by ideological or racial agenda. Even so, their efforts have largely been unsuccessful; in both speech and print the word continues to carry multiple significations. In American and English-speaking cultures at the end of the 20th century the term “jazz” connoted much that is unrelated to swing, bop, fusion, or the hot music of New Orleans in the 1910s....

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