100th Anniversary of First Jazz Recording Today
This might interest our host Mr. Johnson… .
Today is the 100th anniversary of the first jazz recording, Livery Stable Blues, by The Original Dixieland Jass Band. It was recorded in the studio of the Victor Talking Machine Company in New York. (Edited to correctly spell the band’s name).
The BBC has a fascinating article on the origins of both jazz music, and the term jazz itself. That term “jas” seems to go back as far as 1860 to refer to vigour; the Times-Picayune first used the term “jas” to refer to the musical style in 1916. The BBC notes that jazz is particularly fraught with accusations of cultural appropriation, though jazz is hardly the first.
The article is quite fascinating as it delves into the history of jazz (both the music and the term).
From that article:
‘Jazz’ was named the Word of the 20th Century by the American Dialect Society, which is remarkable since we don’t actually know for sure from where the term originates. One of the most striking features of jazz to its earliest listeners was its speed, its sheer energy. Dating back to 1860 there had been an African-American slang term, ‘jasm’, which means ‘vim’ or ‘energy’. On 14 November 1916, the New Orleans Times-Picayune newspaper referred for the first time to “jas bands”. That particular spelling suggests “jas” could have come from jasm. Or perhaps it referred to the jasmine perfume that prostitutes in New Orleans’ famed Storyville red light district often wore – jazz music had developed, in part, as the music played in brothels. Early jazz pioneer Jelly Roll Morton, whose own name was a euphemism for sex, first developed his own style playing piano in these ‘sporting houses’ and to get extra tips he’d peek at a prostitute and her client through a peephole and time his playing with the pace of their revels.
They Mysterious Origins of Jazz (Goes to the BBC)
A copy of the original 1917 recording: