Nobody knows where the word “jazz” originated. It feels today like something that’s always been. A vivid monosyllable—like dawn, or ash. Like the color blue. It might come from the French word jaser, chitchat, or from their word for hunting, chasser. It might have been invented by Titanic-era baseball players, who called their wobbliest pitches “jazz balls.” Many scholars tie “jazz” to “jasm,” an archaic term for energy, spirit or semen. Somehow all of these explanations feel true. Jazz is dirty and spiritual; it’s playful talk and murderous pursuit; it’s a dancing object as it moves through the air. This story is from Kinfolk Issue Twenty-Four Buy Now Related Stories Music Issue 44 Sigrid Scandipop's fresh face on stagecraft and The Sims. Music Issue 43 Brendan Yates The Turnstile frontman on hardcore's sweet side. Music Issue 43 Cat Power Musician Chan Marshall opens the door to a different dimension. Arts & Culture Issue 43 Last Night What did Planningtorock do with their evening? Arts & Culture Issue 43 Signal Boost How status anxiety drives culture. Music Issue 42 Dev Hynes The boundless potential of being a master of none.