Thursday, 22, October 2015

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The River Lee

A Guide to Jazz Slang

It’s that time of year again folks; this bank holiday weekend (October 22 – 26), thousands of eager music fans will descend on the bustling city of Cork for the annual  Cork Jazz Festival.  

As well as incredible live performances from esteemed artists like Booka Brass, The Drifters, Blackalicious and the New Irish Jazz Orchestra, there’ll be a fantastic buzz around the city, with impromptu pub sessions, workshops, open mics and street music all set to take place too. 

jazz festival cork trumpet

The genre of jazz has experienced a fascinating evolution over the years, from its origins in African-American communities in the USA in the late 19th century, to the blues, swing and bebop styles of the 1930s and 1940s. And of course, with such a rich history comes a colourful vocabulary! To help you immerse fully in the Cork weekend, we’ve put together a fun A-Z guide to some of the best words and phrases from the old Jazz era. That’s right – don’t hold back, we won’t steer you wrong!

Axe: Any instrument, even the voice. Be sure to loudly comment on various bands’ prowess on their respective axes.

Bad: Good, à la Michael Jackson. 

Cat’s meow: Even better than bad. Which is good. Still with us?

jazz music river lee cork festival

Doll: An attractive woman. This one mightn’t go down so well.

Eight to the bar: A continuous eight-note rhythm, typical on boogie-woogie piano.

Fried: Stinking drunk – not advisable.

Goof: If your companion’s attention wanders this weekend, you’re within your rights to insist they “stop goofin’ and focus on the music”.  

Harp: An Irishman. Again, maybe gauge the situation before introducing this one to the conversation.

Icy mitt: Cold, hard rejection. Seedoll.

Java: Coffee. Jazz musicians need energy!

Kale: Nope, not for jazz smoothies. This weekend, kale = money.

Lick: A solo; and if it’s especially impressive, a ‘hot lick’.

river lee hotel cork jazz festival

Mind your potatoes: ‘Mind your own business’ but with a fittingly Irish twist.

Noodlin’: Playing random notes without direction. During band soundchecks this weekend, feel free to shout, “Quit noodlin’ and get to jammin’!”

Oliver Twist: A skilled dancer.

Popsicle stick: Another technical term that will impress the masses; this refers to a saxophonist’s reed.

Rusty gate: An unfortunate musician who can’t play very well.

Smokin’: Playing well; expect to use this a lot in Cork.

Tubs: A set of drums.

drums jazz festival cork river lee

Up: When a piece of music has a fast tempo.

Voot: Another term for dolla’ bills.

Wax a disc: Lay down a record.

X: Times; 3x on a piece of music means to play it three times.

Zoot: Sharp clothes. Compliment strangers on their ‘zoot’ suits – they’ll love it. Maybe.

For more details on the many events taking place as part of the Cork Jazz Festival, visit its website. Looking for accommodation in the city? The River Lee is the perfect base from which to explore this vibrant city. Find out more about current offers here.  


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