Here are some jazz phrases that we like and found entertaining. There are so many more than what we’ve listed here, so feel free to add your favorites in the comments!

The Apple – New York City.

Axe – An instrument.

Bag – A particular interest.

Balloon lungs – A wind player with plenty of air.

Beat – Exhausted.

Birdbrain – Someone who imitates Charlie Parker (I think we should start using “Breckerbrain”).

Blow – Slang for playing an instrument.

The Bomb – Very cool.

Bread – Money.

Burnin‘ – An extremely excellent solo/performance.

Cats – Those who play jazz.

Changes – Chord progression.

Chops – The overall ability to play an instrument in a very skilled way. Also refers to a brass players facial muscles.

Clams – Mistakes made while playing.

Combo – A combination of musicians that can vary in size (anywhere from 3 to 10).

Crib – House/home. Also known as pad.

Dig – To know or understand.

Finger Zinger – A musician who plays a whole lot of notes fast.

Flip – To go crazy.

Fly – Slick.

Gig – A paying job.

In the Pocket – When groove is really together Jam – Improvise.

Jive – Phony or fake.

Licks – A term for a phrase of music.

Licorice Stick – Clarinet

Noodlin‘ – Playing a bunch of notes that don’t mean anything or are out of context.

Pad – House

Popsicle Stick – A sax reed.

Scene – A specific place or the general atmosphere.

Smokin‘ – Playing your booty off.

Solid – The band is playing tight.

Split – To leave.

Square – Someone who doesn’t play with a lot of feeling.

Supermurgitroid – Something/someone really cool. (okay, who really used this? Come on…)

Tag – Used to end the tune, where the last phrase is repeated.

Train Wreck – Where a piece of music or performance is completely botched.

Wail – To play extremely well.

Wax a disc – Cut a record.

Wig/Wig out – To flip out.

Woodshed (or Shed) – To practice.

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Published by Shannon Kennedy

Shannon Kennedy is a vocalist and saxophonist living in Southern California. She is author of "The Album Checklist" and the founder of Teen Jazz. She has been contributing articles to music magaizines and websites since 2004.

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