Swing Jargon

Thanks for all the lists, Pygmalion! What fun! :lol:

A couple of things this brings back:

Musicians call each other "cat" all the time, although even when I was playing pretty steadily in the 80s, there was a retro feel to it. I remember playing a gig where we opened for a Dixieland group. They were talking about when to close the hall, and the drummer of the group (who's wearing this beret, a goatee, and shades no less), says, "No man! Just leave the place open and let these cats blow all night!"

Gig is indeed common parlance for a musical job. Recently the word has been hijacked by actors, who want to think that they're as cool as musicians. Which, of course, they're not. The worst, though, is listening to these young MBAs or academics talk about "getting a gig." I'm really hoping I can land the Harvard gig. Puh-lease!

I don't like the definition of cool jazz. Cool jazz is not intellectual--Miles Davis's famous "Birth of the Cool" album attempted to reintroduce the concept of melody and melodic playing at the height of the bebop era. If anything, bebop is more intellectual than emotional. I can't think of many more emotional players than Miles.

Wail is still used today--but they don't give the dance usage, which can be traced at least as far as the 1930s; in that old tune, "Jump, Jive, and Wail," it's used to describe dancing. To jive and wail is to dance to the kind of beat that the song lays down. Suggesting that maybe the dancers are seen to mimic the musicians? Or as a musical metaphor applied to their dancing? I love the definition of jive as "stuff," like, "for instance, liquor." Yeah, or grass. Or heroin!

Groovy is another term that's been hijacked and twisted by the 1960s, most famously in "The 59th Street Bridge Song" (which don't get me wrong is one of my favorite S & G tunes). But it isn't indiscriminately applied to a great beat; rather, it suggests a smoother tune, a beat that drives forward to the end of phrases. As opposed to "stomping," which is more redolent of the Chicago-style "hot jazz."

Satchelmouth was a new one for me. Is this where Louis Armstrong's nickname of Satchmo came from? He could sure play high and tricky.

Sackbutt for trombone--made me laugh. A few years ago, I did an NEH grant with an early music group, and one girl lent me her sackbutt to play on. It was an actual, reconstructed sackbutt from the Renaissance. And I immediately started blowing "In a Sentimental Mood," which I think was the first and only time that lonely horn was ever used to blow Ellington! :lol:

If anyone gets to see "The Ladykillers," one of the best lines in the movie is, "But boss--I can't play the buttsack!" :lol:

One of the best sources of 20s and 30s slang, I think, is Cab Calloway's recording, "Minnie the Moocher." If you like early slang from the jazz era, check it out! :D

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