Thursday, July 26, 2012

Jumping the Shark: IAJA Bans Use of 13 Words

Manhattan, Kansas - In an unprecedented move, the International Association of Jazz Advocacy (IAJA) announced Wednesday that it has banned the use of 13 of the most offensively trite words in jazz journalism.  These are:

1. soaring
2. screaming
3. wailing
4. scorching
5. burning
6. incendiary
7. sinuous
8. muscular
9. angular
10. jagged
11. ragged
12. funky
13. gritty

Chevy Prefect, president of the newly formed IAJA, a non-profit corporation whose membership is rumored to be comprised of a reorganized group of former members of the IAJE (International Association of Jazz Education--which filed for bankruptcy and finally dissolved in 2009) issued this statement:

"These words constitute the most egregiously abused clichés in music writing.  Of particular interest to the IAJA, of course, is their overuse in jazz writing.  Journalists, in their never-ending search for the perfectly purple adjective, invariably choose the same 13 words that have been beaten to death for the last twenty years and rendered utterly meaningless. If you want to know why more people don't listen to jazz, just look at the way the music is repeatedly described in print.  In the interests of both forwarding the music that is this country's greatest indigenous art form, and preserving the English language, writers are encouraged to immediately cease all use of these turgid, lifeless terms, and urged, if it isn't too late, to buy a dictionary or thesaurus."

Prefect went on to say that the IAJA's research had discovered material for further exploration of jazz journalism's language abuses in several other areas.  "In the pocket," he noted, though currently not particularly in vogue, and not always employed as an adjective even when it is, is possibly the most confusing phrase in jazz journalism. He also stated that the list of fire-related adjectives is not limited to the ones cited above as 4., 5. and 6., since such words seemingly go on forever.  Newly in fashion, he said, but already on the IAJA's Endangered Specious List, is "tattoo," which in current parlance can take the place of "ostinato" or any number of other musical terms.

Prefect concluded by saying that the IAJA's research committee has indicated an interest in immediately investigating one of the most unusual findings in its language surveyIn a sampling of 100 working jazz musicians with active or recently active recording contracts, 78 of them favored an indefinite ban on any use of the word "jazz."

When contacted and asked for comment on the IAJA's announced list of banned adjectives, Nate Chinen of the New York Times, Will Friedwald of the Wall Street Journal, Bill Milkowski of Jazz Times, Don Heckman of the Los Angeles Times and Paul de Barros of the Seattle Times, did not return our calls, although Nat Hentoff is rumored to have said to the manager of an East Village newsstand late yesterday afternoon, "What, they need to ask?"  A Manhattan (NYC) cabbie also emailed me late last night to say he'd picked up the Wall Street Journal critic as a fare outside Dizzy's--and that when he asked what the writer thought about the ban, Friedwald had struck an Austin Powers-like pose and laughed quietly to himself.


robert bush said...

Hilarious, Carl! I must confess to using muscular, angular and occasionally, soaring.

Carl L. Hager said...

Yes, so have I, Robert... But I recently joined a local chapter of Adjectives Anonymous.

Dave Pence said...

Are you sure this isn't from The Onion (Jazz Edition)?

Lorraine Feather said...

Love it. On a related topic, the general use of "amazing" has not abated one bit since it was given the top spot of words that should be permanently banned this year. I just joined the "Overuse of the Word 'Amazing'" Facebook page. We do what we can.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to nominate "infectious" (after I wash my hands)

Carl L. Hager said...

Dave - The Onion would hire me to produce a special edition such as what you describe, but they can't afford me.

Lorraine - I'm with you. I just joined the "Overuse of the Word 'Amazing'" Facebook page. A friend suggested that the IAJA ban the obnoxiously overused word "sensibilities" and my good friend Anonymous here suggests removing "infectious." I concur in both cases. There is good news in that regard, as I am anticipating an announcement from the IAJA that they will soon extend the list of banned words, and are accepting suggestions for which words to ban from astute observers such as yourself.