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Username: Dancas1

Post Number: 15
Registered: 01-2005
Posted on Thursday, February 10, 2005 - 04:44 am:   Edit Post Print Post

The Pizzazz of Jazz: The Sanas of Jazz
(Rough notes to a ragged tune) February 1, 2005

The word "Jazz" suddenly started to appear in the San Francisco Bulletin in March 1913, in a series of articles about baseball by Irish American reporter Edward “Scoop” Gleeson. These first published examples of the new word Jazz have nothing to do with music, but refer to an intangible quality possessed by baseball players; what another writer in the S.F. Bulletin, Ernest Hopkins, described in April 1923 as “life, vigor, energy, effervescence of spirit, joy, pep, magnetism, verve, virility, ebullience, courage, happiness oh, what’s the use? Jazz. Nothing else can express it”. S.F. Bulletin, March 1913

The Teas (pron. Jass, Heat) of Jazz

The Irish word Teas (pronounced jass, chas, or t'as) means Heat.

Teas, m, (pron. jass) Heat, High spirits. Excitement. Ardor. Passion. Vigor. Fervor. Zeal. Anger. Highest Temperature. (Dineen, pp. 1194-95; O'Donaill, pp. 1221-22, Dwelly, p. 994)

Teas (pron. jass, heat) is Teasaí (Jassy, hot.)

Teasaí, adj. (pron. jassy, chassy, or t'assy), hot, high spirited, exciting, ardent, passionate, vehement, fiery, hot tempered.

Jazz or Jass is the American English phonetic spelling and pronunciation of the Irish and Gaelic word Teas, which can be pronounced in Irish, Scots-Gaelic, and Manx dialects as jass, chass, or t'ass. The first published sources for Jazz are all from San Francisco Irish Americans. Through the 1920s more than half of the Irish emigrants to North America were Irish-Speakers. In 1913 there were thousands of Irish speakers in San Francisco.

The San Francisco sports reporter Scoop Gleeson claimed he heard the word Jazz from fellow Irish American newspaperman, Spike Slattery, while they were at the training camp of the local baseball team, the San Francisco Seals. Slattery said he had heard it in a crap game. Art Hickman, an unemployed local San Francisco Irish musician, was at the camp to make contacts among the newsmen and baseball players, and on an impulse he organized a Rag (Ráig, rush, on impulse, rapid) Time band he put together with other out-of-work musicians, including two banjo players. It was this band that developed a new sound that was described in the San Francisco Bulletin as "Jazz." This hot (Teasaí, pron. Jassy, Hot) new name "Jazz" traveled with Art Hickman to gigs in San Francisco and later all the way to the New York.

American Big Band Biographies Art Hickman Orch b. June 13, 1886, Oakland, CA, USA, d. January 15, 1930. San Francisco, CA, USA.

From all of these considerations, a case could be made that the application of the word "Jazz" to music seems to have actually begun in San Francisco at about this time. It does seem that while 'Jazz' was a slang expresssion known throughout the United States, including New Orleans, it was only used as slang for sexual intercourse, - not for music. It is interesting to note also that the old time New Orleans musicians didn't apply the word 'Jazz' to their music until ca. 1917, when they moved north up the Mississippi river, and found the word already in wide use. (See Peter Tamony, "Jazz: The Word, and its Extension to Music," JEMF Quarterly, Spring 1981.) The migration North was due to the U. S. Army closing down the 'Red Light' district of New Orleans, - their main source of employment.

From Rag to Jazz

Ráig, (also spelled Ríodhg, dh = h) means "a sudden rush, a sudden acceleration, a strong and sudden impulse to do something reckless; rapid time; frivolity; fig. “drifting, enjoying life.” Which is how you play Ráig Time. With rapid changes of syncopation and a good time feeling. (Dineen, pp. 873-74, O'Donaill, Dwelly)

In late 19th and early 20th century New Orleans, Irish American "Papa Jack" Laine, the founder of the integrated Reliance Band, called his early version of Ragtime music "Ragged" music. It was the rollicking sound that the brass bands broke into when they left the cemetery after a funeral, ragging the old military marches with rapidly shifting syncopations, and cutting loose, acting the fool, as they strolled through the streets with the Second Line.

Ráigíocht (ch = h, pron. rageeht)
Strolling about, acting the tramp, straying, frivolous. Like the Second Line.

The word Jazz (Teas, pron. jass, heat, excitement ) as Jazz is said to have strayed to Chicago through the effort of Irish American bandleader, Bert Kelly. In 1916 Jazz warmed the Windy City with a new phonetic spelling as The New Orleans Jass Band. Despite the band’s name, according to this new research, the word Jazz was still not known in New Orleans until 1917, as early musicians attested. The word Jazz supposedly arrived through the medium of a letter from Freddie Keppard in Chicago to the cornet player Joe Oliver. Oliver showed the letter to protege Louis Armstrong and the name Jazz (Teas, pron. jass, Heat) soon became applied to the hot, passionate, high-spirited Teas (Jass, heat and excitement) that was the New Orleans hot hybrid style.

The big question was, where did those San Francisco Irish American crapshooters of 1913 get their word Jazz from? Edward Gleason, the San Francisco reporter, said that when they rolled the dice the crap shooters would call out “Come on, the old jazz”. (Teas, pron. Jass, high spirits, excitement), using the word as a Gaelic incantation to the gambling "gods of the odds."

Jazz as Jass as Teas means heat, high spirit, fervor, excitement, and passion, the hot, hybrid-Irish slang and speech of North America for the hot hybrid New Orleans music that came to be called Teas (Jazz, Heat.) Like Salsa.

Jazz is made of Pizzazz

January 27, 2005, a NY Times headline reads “Publishing Sees Pizazz Potential in New Awards.”

Pizzazz or pizazz means “a piece of heat, ardor, passion, and excitement." Tiny sparkles and incandescent bits of jazz, hot notes of passion and spirit (teas, pron. jass, heat, excitement) Pizzazz is a small but very jazzy word.

When the Irish word Teas (pron. jass, chass, or t'as) is aspirated it shape shifts in the mouth to Theas (pron. has)

Píosa Theas (pron. pees-has, the "th" is aspirated to "h." ) A piece or bit of heat, excitement, ardor, passion, vigor, high spirits, fervor, zeal, and highest temperature.

I was not going to include Pizzazz in all this jazz (teas, heat) because English speakers are baffled by Irish aspiration. But Pizzazz is such a Jazzy (Teasaí, pron. jassy; high spirited) word I went with my aspirations, instead. The Irish language after all adds Jazz, Pizzazz, and aspiration to the hybrid American Language we speak today.

Daniel Cassidy
Oíche Féile Brighde
January 31, 2005


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Karen Ellis
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Posted on Friday, February 18, 2005 - 07:43 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

I told Dan the information traced back to Peter Tamony, "Jazz: The Word, and its Extension to Music," JEMF Quarterly, Spring 1981.

From my area on Linguistics

Look at Irish American Vernacular English
Jazz Etymology: Irish American Vernacular English and the hidden influence of Irish and Scots-Gaelic on what we call American English

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