In 1919, jazz, or “jass,” as some still called it, was a peculiar word with musical and sexual connotations. It could be noun, verb or adjective, indicating pep, liveliness and noise. Jazz was the new counterculture dance music replacing ragtime — but more dangerous, disorderly and discordant, consisting of random, wrong-sounding musical obstreperousness and percussive turmoil. The music had been considered a scourge on polite society, particularly by whites, even if many of them had no idea what the word meant. Now, thousands — both white and black — cheered [James Reese Europe’s] “jazz” band [as they marched in a post-WWI victory parade in Manhattan].
(David Sager, “Jazz on the Edge of Change,” NYTimes, 2-18-19)
(c) 2019 JMN.