| MAIN PAGE
HISTORY OF JAZZ:
Slang list courtesy of All About Jazz
18 Karat - All the way, full out.
Air-check - A recording of a radio or television performance.
The Apple - New York city. This is now common usage.
Axe - An instrument.
Baby - A term of endearment.
Bad - Good.
Bag - A person's particular interest.
Balloon lungs - A brass man with plenty of wind.
Barn Burner - Originally in Sinatra slang this was a stylish, classy woman, but today, it can even be applied to a good football game.
Barrelhouse - Barrelhouse was the colloquial term for a cabaret in New Orleans where liquor was served. Barrelhouse music is the type of music played in one of these cabarets.
Beat - Exhausted or tired.
Birdbrain - A Charlie Parker imitator.
Blow - A jazzman's term for playing any instrument.
Blow your top - A phrase which expresses enthusiasm or exasperation.
The Bomb - Very cool.
Boogie Man - In the jazz slanguage of 1935, this was a critic.
Boogie Woogie - An early piano blues form that was popularized in Chicago. The term has sexual overtones.
Bose Bouncing - To play notes so low as to bounce a Bose speaker from its foundation.
Bread - A jazzman's word for money.
Break it down - Get hot!! Go to town.
Bring Down or Bringdown - As a verb - to depress. As a noun - one who depresses.
Bug - To annoy or bewilder.
Burnin - Used to describe a particularly emotional or technically excellent solo.
Cans - Headphones.
Cats - Folks who play jazz music.
Changes - Chord progression.
Character - An interesting, out of the ordinary person.
Chick - A young and pretty girl.
Chill 'ya - When an unusual "hot" passion gives you goose pimples.
Chops - The ability to play an instrument, a highly refined technique. Also refers to a brass players facial muscles.
Clams - Mistakes while playing music.
Clinker - A bad note or one that is fluffed.
Combo - Combination of musicians that varies in size from 3 to 10.
Cool - A restrained approach to music. A superlative which has gained wide acceptance outside of jazz.
Corny, Cornball - A jazz man's term for trite, sweet or stale.
Crazy - Another jazz superlative.
Crib - Same as pad.
Crumb - Someone for whom it is impossible to show respect.
Cut - To leave or depart. Also to completely outdo another person or group in a battle of the bands.
Dad, Daddy-o - A hipster's way of addressing another guy.
Dark - Angry or upset (used in the Midwest).
Dig - To know or understand completely.
DeeJay, Disk Jockey - An announcer of records on radio.
Down by law - is to have paid dues; that is, to have earned respect for your talent or ability to "get down."
Drag - As a verb - to depress or bring down a person's spirits or, as a noun - a person or thing which depresses.
The End - Superlative that is used interchangeably with "too much" or "crazy."
Finger Zinger - Someone who plays very fast.
Flip - A verb meaning to go crazy or a noun meaning an eccentric.
Flip your lid - Same as "Blow your top."
Fly - Smooth or slick.
Fracture - To inspire or move someone.
Freak Lip - A pair of kissers that wear like leather; one who can hit high C's all night and play a concert the next day.
Funky - Earthy or down-to-earth.
Gas - As a noun - something that moves you. As a verb - to stir up feelings.
Gate - Early term for a Jazz musician.
Get Down - To play or dance superlatively with abandon.
Gig - A paying job.
Gone - Yet another Jazz superlative.
Goof - Fail to carry out a responsibility or wander in attention.
Got your glasses on - you are ritzy or snooty, you fail to recognize your friends, you are up-stage.
Groovy - Used in the fifties to denote music that swings or is funky. For a short while in the sixties, groovy was synonymous with cool. The word has been used little since the seventies.
Gutbucket -Gutbucket refers to something to store liquor in and to the type of music associated with heavy drinking. An early term for lowdown or earthy music.
Hand me that skin (later modified to Hand me some skin) - A big expression for "shake, pal."
Head or Head Arrangement - An arrangement of a song that is not written, but remembered by the band members (the tune and progression to improvise on).
Heat - Solo space.
Hep - A term once used to describe someone who knows or understands. Replaced by "hip" about the same time that cool replaced hot. Some sources believe that "Hep" was the surname of a Chicago gangster of the 1890's.
Hide hitter - drummer.
Hip - A term used to describe someone who knows or understands. Originally "hep" until the 40's or 50's.
Hipster - A follower of the various genres of bop jazz in the 50's. These were the precursors of hippies in the 60's.
Horn - Any instrument (not necessarily a brass or reed instrument).
Hot - A term once used to describe "real" jazz. Replaced as a superlative by "cool" in the late 40's or early 50's.
A Hot Plate - A hot recording.
I'm Booted - I'm hip or I understand.
In the Mix - Put it together, make it happen.
In the Pocket - Refers to the rhythm section being really together as in...
Jack - Jazz man's term for another person. Often used in a negative manner.
Jake - Okay.
Jam - To improvise.
Jam Session - A group of jazz players improvising.
Jazz - The music which is discussed here. May have come from the French jaser - to chatter. May have come from Jasbo Brown - a dancer.
Jazz Box - a jazz guitar.
Jitterbug - A jumpy, jittery energetic dance or one who danced this dance during the swing period.
Jive - A versatile word which can be used as a noun, verb or adjective. Noun - an odd form of speech. Verb - to fool someone. Adjective - phoney or fake.
JAMF - Jive A-- Mother F--R. Someone who is not thought highly of.
Joe Below - A musician who plays under-scale.
Jump - To swing.
Junk - Heroin.
Kill - To fracture or delight.
Lame - Something that doesn't quite cut it.
Licks, hot licks - An early term for phrase or solo.
Licorice Stick - Clarinet
Lid - Hat.
Moldy Fig - During the Bop era, fans and players of the new music used this term to discribe fans and players of the earlier New Orleans Jazz.
Muggles - One nickname for marijuana used by early Jazzmen (Armstrong has a song by this title).
My Chops is beat - When a brass man's lips give out.
Noodlin' -- To just play notes that have no particular meaning to a tune or solo.
Out of this world - A superlative which is no longer in common use.
Out to Lunch - Same as lame.
Pad - House, home, apartment or bed.
Popsicle Stick - A sax player's reed.
Rock - To swing or jump (as in Jump bands - the fore-runners of Rock and Roll bands).
Rock and Roll - Of course the new music of the 50's, but originally slang for sex.
Rusty Gate - Someone who can't play.
Sackbut - The Sackbut was a 16th century instrument, similar
to the trombone.
Scene - A place or atmosphere.
Schmaltz it - Play it "long-haired."
Schmaltz or Schmalz - It's the Yiddish word for chicken fat, and has been a slang term in the U.S. since the '20s for anything sickeningly sweet or "greasy", especially music or poetry.
Scratch - (see Bread)
Screwin' the Pooch - Really bad mistakes while playing music.
Send - to move or to stimulate.
Sharp - Fashionable.
Skins player - The drummer. (Skins comes from the days when cowhide or other dried animal skin was used to make drum heads.)
Smokin' - Playing your ass off.
Snap your cap - Same as "Blow your top."
Solid - A swing-era superlative which is little used today.
Split - To leave.
Square - A somewhat outmoded term meaning unknowing which can be a noun or a verb.
Sugar band - A sweet band; lots of vibrato and glissando.
Supermurgitroid - really cool.
Swing - to get a rocking or swaying beat.
Sraw Boss - From Dan Nicora: The term was explained to me by Richard Davis, bass player with Thad & Mel, and many NY groups. It refers to the lead alto player in a big band, being the dude who leads all the other saxophones, knows all of the answers and takes care of the crew.
Tag - Used to end the tune, repeating the last phrase three times.
Take five - A way of telling someone to take a five minute break or to take a five minute break.
Too much - Just one more jazz superlative. Originally something so good, that it is hard to take.
Torch - Used occasionally as a description of a song that expresses unrequited love. Nobody could sing "torch" songs like Peggy Lee.
Train Wreck - Event during the playing of a tune when the musicians "disagree" on where they are in the form (i.e. someone gets lost), so the chord changes and the melody may get confused for several bars, but depending on the abilities of the musicians (it happens to the best of them), there are usually no fatalities and the journey continues.
Tubs - Set of drums.
Two beat - Four-four time with a steady two beat ground beat on the bass drum. New Orleans Jazz.
Wail - To play a tune extremely well.
Walking bass or walking rhythm - an energetic four-beat rhythm pattern.
Wax a disc - Cut a record.
Wig, Wig out - To flip out. Also to think precisely.
Wild - Astonishing or amazing.
Witch Doctor - A member of the clergy.
Woodshed (or Shed) - To practice.
Zoot - Used in the thirties and forties to describe exaggerated clothes, especially a zoot suit.
Kama Sutra art - ancient love teachings.
Vintage Photos - history of erotic art photography.
Sex News - sexual knowledge and guide.