The first jazz record ever released (see here) helped jazz music spread worldwide and musicians everywhere were able to learn the various styles through the imitation of this and other recordings. Previously jazz had been a local phenomenon known only by those who were lucky enough to watch performers in New Orleans or other places in the South, where that kind of music was born. But what we call jazz nowadays was then called jass.
On its etymological origins there are different theses .
One of these derives the word from the French jaser, which means to chatter, to gossip making noise, also with allusions to sexual activity.
In New Orleans in the early 1900s jass, and even more ragtime, were played in brothels. Many times to denigrate this type of music, the j was deleted and only “ass” remained.
Another funny story about the origin of the word, holds that “jass” is short for the jasmine perfume that New Orleans prostitutes wore.
According to an alternative theory, the word derives from the slang word “jasm,” a variant of the term “jism” or “gism, which originally meant energy, vitality, spirit.
By the end of the 1800s, “gism” started to mean not only “vitality” but also “virility,” and the word was often used as slang for “sperm.”
Jass was also used in baseball to describe a player with pep.
It is in the late 1917, that the word swapped from “jass” to “jazz,” applied to a new kind of musical style.
Victor Records in its 7 March 1917 review for the release of the first jazz record by the Original Dixieland Jass Band, stated: “Spell it Jass, Jas, Jaz, or Jazz, nothing can spoil a Jass band”.
Photo from Facebook: Original Dixieland Jazz Band