Monday, April 13, 2009

What's In a Word?

Jazz. What does the word mean in Kansas City?

It gets requisite lip service in travel literature. Dozens of music instructors at area high schools and colleges attempt to make students fluent in the word. Plenty of local musicians are paid to play the music.

Thousands of Kansas City-area residents genuinely love the sound. A few hundred of them might even be under the age of forty.

But for most Kansas Citians, the word is no longer directly connected to music. For these people, Jazz might be a restaurant chain. It could be a women's rugby team. Some might even acknowledge it as the soundtrack of a Robert Altman film.

The disconnect, of course, is not limited to Kansas City. There's Jazzercise, Utah's professional basketball team and the cable channel that broadcasts Steve Harvey.

The music, let alone the word's sordid etymology, has become a secondary association.

What about the inspiration for this essay? It's an auto and tire repair shop in Kansas City, Kansas.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

1 comment:

Jason Harper said...

Jaz with one z is also the engineer at 64111 Studios and brother of Joe Good.

Jazz with two z's is a basketball team from Utah.