Yes indeed. You may ask yourself what this crazy headline is all about.
Well, haven written about how daunting it can be to get into the music of jazz, I thought I might use this blog to talk a little about the strange lingo, the colloquialisms, the vernaculars, call it what you want, basically the inside language that exists in the world of jazz.
Let’s start by de-mystifying the header shall we?
Cats = musicians (though most of you probably already knew this)
Horn = instrument (even if it’s now a horn!)
To Woodshed = to go and practice. This comes from the fact that some musicians have been known to go and practice in the shed in the garden. Most likely because practising can be quite a horrible cacophony for anyone to be subjected to.
Cat A (Steve McQueen): “How’s your chops”
Cat B (Miles Davis): “My chops is beat”
Cat A: “Two bad – too much time in the shed?”
Cat B: “Naah, too much blowin on these gigs lately”
Cat A: “Oh yeah, been tryin’ out your new licks?”
Cat B: “Uh-huh, got some bad new hot licks!”
Cat A: “Good gig, was it?
Cat B: “The whole band was in the pocket”
Cat A: “Sweet, the whole bad was in the crease”
In plain English:
Cat A: “How is your playing” (chops could also refer to the lips of a brass player – they tend to get fatigued easily)
Cat B: “I’m worn out / I can’t play well / My lips/fingers etc are hurting”
Cat A: “Too bad – have you been practising too much?”
Cat B: “No, too much soloing/playing on these gigs lately”
Cat A: “Oh yeah, have you been trying out your snazzy new preconceived musical phrases (=licks)?”
Cat B: “Uh-huh, I’ve got some really good, fantastic new phrases” (bad=good)
Cat A: “Good gig, was it?”
Cat B: “The whole band was really playing like a unit, really grooving”
Cat A: “Sweet, the band was playing really well)”
Luckily our two jazz musicians decided to call it a day there, or we could have gone much longer…
As you can see, a bit of jazz language has actually found its way into main-stream language such as “cats” (musicians) and “bad” (good). Phrases like “The Big Apple” (New York), to “dig” (to like), “cans” (headphones) are said to have come from the world of jazz, though this is of course impossible to prove.
Regardless, there are of course many more expressions, so if you are interested in the meaning of such terms as:
- Trading Twos
… then please go to our Jazz Terms Glossary, where you can find even more jazz terms, including more technical expressions (with all the explanations) and all-round jazz madness!