Jive and Toasting


There is a definite link between the jive talk of Harlem and the jive talk of the American deejays who followed, and then the toasters of Kingston. I have written about this connection and evolution here and here and have also written an article on this topic that is in the current issue of Caribbean Quarterly which just hit the stands and I look even further at the link to hip hop and rap.

But this week I would like to share some scans of a Jive & Swing Dictionary that was compiled and published by Vic Filmer of Penzance in England–a few miles away from Harlem! Or should I say kilometers. Filmer had been a pianist at the Cafe at the Folies Bergere in Paris and had also been rated “Jazz Musician No. 1” by many publications in London, as he tells us in the “About the Author” section. This publication was one of a few jive dictionaries that had been published during the 1940s, but most of those were published in America, and I discuss those in my previous post. This one was published in England. The trend had spread. I love it when Filmer writes of the trend hitting society clubs in England, “And didn’t the old Dowagers looked shocked when they saw the youngsters cavorting around their drawing rooms in bunnyhugs, turkey-trots and what-nots, we would call it jitter-bugging now, or the later term, gandy-dancing.” Reminds me of Downton Abbey or Mr. Selfridge! Or Mr. Burns.

Anyway, have a look at this jive dictionary. Could this be one that made its way into the hands of Count Matchuki? Perhaps, or perhaps it was one of the others that was produced during these years. Amusing to imagine.


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One Reply to “Jive and Toasting”

  1. Heather, I found this fascinating. I searched your website to see if you had any references to Mezz Mezzrow, the American musician who also greatly influenced the “jive” lexicon. Although his talent as a clarinetist was marginal, he was renowned as a dealer in cannabis. He was noted as Louis Armstrong’s supplier. He was a white, American Jew, but when he was arrested & sent to jail for dealing, he called himself “spiritually” Black and was put in the Black section of the segregated jail. His book “Really The Blues” has several sections that highlight his use of “jive.”

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