All About Jazz

Home » Articles » Just For Fun

1,693

Jazz Slang

AAJ Staff By

Sign in to view read count
Snap your cap. Same as "Blow your top."
Hey, Buddy, calm down. Don't "snap your cap."

Solid. A swing-era superlative which is little used today.
Little Jazz can blow up a storm, he's really "solid."

Split. To leave.
Sorry I can't stick around Slick, I gotta "split."

Square. A somewhat outmoded term meaning unknowing which can be a noun or a verb.
That cat is a real "square"

Sugar band. A sweet band; lots of vibrato and glissando.

Supermurgitroid. really cool.
That club was supermurgitroid!

Swing. to get a rocking or swaying beat.
Ellington's band "swings" like no other. It's elegant.

Sraw Boss. From Dan Nicora: The term was explained to me by Richard Davis, bassist 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.
Hey, Cleanhead, this is a cool tune and we're blowin' too hot. We oughta "take five."

Too much. Just one more jazz superlative. Originally something so good, that it is hard to take.
Art Blakey is a fantastic drummer. His playing is "too much."

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.
Jo is really hot tonight. Listen to him pound those "tubs."

Two beat. Four-four time with a steady two beat ground beat on the bass drum. New Orleans Jazz.
I can't dig this "two beat" jazz. My boys got to have four even beats to the measure.

Wail. To play a tune extremely well.
Count Basie did a tune called "Prince of Wails"—a clever play on words. Damn, Basie's band can really "wail."

Walking bass or walking rhythm. an energetic four-beat rhythm pattern.
I really dig the way Earl plays the 88's. He plays the tune with his left hand and a "walking bass" with his right.

Wax a disc. Cut a record.
I just "waxed a disc" up at Rudy Van Gelder's studio with Jimmy Smith.

Wig, Wig out. To flip out. Also to think precisely.
I don't know what happened, man, we were just sittin' there and Louie just "wigged out."

Wild. Astonishing or amazing.
It's really "wild" the way Lee plays the trumpet.

Witch Doctor. A member of the clergy.
Have you heard, Margie's brother is a "witch doctor."

Woodshed (or Shed). To practice.
Duke was up all night shedin' that untouchable lick.

Zoot. Used in the thirties and forties to describe exaggerated clothes, especially a zoot suit.
Look at that cat's "zoot" suit. It's crazy, man.

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Building a Jazz Library
CD/LP/Track Review
Profiles
CD/LP/Track Review
Book Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Classic 1936-1947 Count Basie and Lester Young Studio Sessions

Classic 1936-1947...

Mosaic Records
2016

buy
Boston 1950

Boston 1950

Uptown Records
2013

buy
 

The Pres

Jazz Anthology
2010

buy
100 Years - Forever Young

100 Years - Forever...

Storyville Records
2010

buy
Centennial Celebration Lester Young

Centennial...

Original Jazz Classics
2009

buy
The Lester Young/Count Basie Sessions 1936-1940

The Lester...

Mosaic Records
2008

buy

Related Articles

Read Hey, George Frazier--I’m 10 Years Old Over Here Just For Fun
Hey, George Frazier--I’m 10 Years Old Over Here
by Brian Dunn
Published: September 27, 2015
Read Top Five Funniest People in Jazz Just For Fun
Top Five Funniest People in Jazz
by Michael Ricci
Published: November 27, 2014
Read Hot Rod Jazz God, Part 2: An Open Letter to Rod Stewart Just For Fun
Hot Rod Jazz God, Part 2: An Open Letter to Rod Stewart
by Jason West
Published: May 28, 2013
Read Hear Me Talkin' to Ya: Jazz Aphorisms Just For Fun
Hear Me Talkin' to Ya: Jazz Aphorisms
by Chris May
Published: December 23, 2011
Read Rod Stewart: Hot Rod, Jazz God Just For Fun
Rod Stewart: Hot Rod, Jazz God
by Jason West
Published: January 29, 2005
Read BugHouse: Pages 1-5 Just For Fun
BugHouse: Pages 1-5
by AAJ Staff
Published: January 20, 2005
Read "Ostrava Days 2017" Live Reviews Ostrava Days 2017
by Martin Longley
Published: November 23, 2017
Read "Tortilla Soup with Tony Lindsay At Yoshi's" Live Reviews Tortilla Soup with Tony Lindsay At Yoshi's
by Walter Atkins
Published: September 26, 2017
Read "2017 Newport Jazz Festival" In Pictures 2017 Newport Jazz Festival
by Richard Conde
Published: September 29, 2017
Read "Sunday at the Monterey Jazz Festival" In Pictures Sunday at the Monterey Jazz Festival
by Dave Kaufman
Published: November 2, 2017
Read "12 Most Read Album Reviews: 2017" Best of / Year End 12 Most Read Album Reviews: 2017
by Michael Ricci
Published: December 31, 2017