The word Jazz
has its origins in the Creole brothels (Jas
houses) of New Orleans in the late 19th century.
were called jezebels
, shortened to "jes" or "jez". The pronunciation was closer to "Jas", hence the term "Jas house" for brothel
. Music was provided for the clients, and this music became known as "Jas music", sometimes called "Jass music".
A popular explanation for the difference in spelling is that when the word "Jass" was featured in flyers and posters, the letter "J" was often crossed out, leaving "ass" in its place. Promoters felt that "ass music" was a bit inappropriate, so the spelling was changed from "Jass" to "Jazz", hence "Jazz music".