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Jazz Pronunciation Guide

The Ever-Controversial WWUH Jazz Pronunciation Guide

INTRODUCTION by J.O. Spaak, Sole Editor and Lightning Rod for Controversy

NOTE: This Introduction was originally written when this Guide was being offered to jazz radio programmers in a now defunct effort to build an online jazz programmer community. The Guide is now offered to anyone interested. It will likely never be updated, so here it is, "for the Ages." --J.O. Spaak, former 'UH Jazz Director, May 2002

As serious jazz  people, we probably all get irritated when we hear a radio announcer lacking jazz experience inform us that we were just listening to "Art Blakely and the Jazz Messengers" or "violinist Stephanie Grappelli". This kind of error is as much a result of being a lazy or inattentive reader, obviously, as being inexperienced in jazz. This Guide does not pretend to be able to cure that problem. And, it's very obvious that it will be of no help when one is sitting before an open mic, reading the personnel from a recording not encountered before, and discovering an equally "foreign" name (foreign in quotes because it may very well be a name from the English-bred world). However, if one plans to do a special segment spotlighting the music of someone you've long admired, but dreaded pronouncing the name, it may be of some modest aid to you.

The first batch of candidates for inclusion here was culled from an informal survey of New England radio people at a meeting several years ago. The nominees were to be musicians whose names  we had heard other radio people mispronounce frequently. (The database has grown since, by additional nominations and on the Editor's own initiative, and now includes the occasional place name, name of a composition, name of a record label, names of noted producers or others associated with the music, etc.) Even in a room containing many decades of collective jazz radio experience, some names struggled valiantly to avoid a consensus being reached about them. This raises the issue of authority. "Joe Blow has been on the air for 20 years and he says it this way..." is not sufficient authority. I'll bet you "dollars to donuts" that "Joe Blow" doesn't know how to say "Montreux"! Obviously, the ultimate authority would be derived by summoning the subject (from the grave, when appropriate) to appear before us and tell us with his/her own lips how the name should be said. Since this is slightly impractical, the next best thing is to have "earwitness" testimony of someone who did, at one time, speak directly to the party in question and heard how the person pronounced her or his own name. When this is possible, the Editor will cite that information in
the entry. [The Editor only appoints himself an "Authority" in one area: French! This because he studied it in his youth until it "came out his ears".]

Why does all this matter? Should we all go about speaking like, to borrow Monty Python's immortal phrase, "upper class twits"? Your Editor believes it is a matter of respect for other cultures (time to reverse the trend of English-speakers trotting the globe demanding that "the natives" be the ones
to learn a new tongue!), and respect for an individual's personal heritage. (With all the attention garnered by Wynton, Branford, et al, why have some media types still not picked up on the fact that it's pronounced "Mar-sell-iss", not "Mar-sail-iss" or some other variant?!?) Is your Editor so deluded as to believe a unanimity of pronunciation by jazz radio hosts in New England can be achieved? Not quite, but it's endless fun to argue over these things! By the way, though your Editor takes sole responsibility for what appears here, he makes no claim to infallibility. Yes, there's the occasional educated guess where reliable resources just weren't available. Take it or leave it, folks!!

HOW TO USE/PRONUNCIATION KEY

HOW TO USE:Entries are listed "Last name first". Since we lack the resources to set up a search engine, use the links to jump to the appropriate section of the alphabet (e.g., "A-E", "XYZ", etc.) and just scroll down the page seeking an entry. You'll also find links planted to return you to the Key, below. Happy exploring!

KEY: Believe it or not, this software does not provide the ability to place a hyphen-like line above a vowel to indicate it's a "long vowel". This kind of clue will be given via the phonetic "spelling out" of the entry and, often, by giving an example of a common word with which it rhymes. Therefore, it is ESSENTIAL that you read an entry in its entirety! (You'll find the occasional attempted witticism this way, lucky you!) The syllable to be emphasized appears in bold type; in the rare case of an entry with two syllables emphasized, the stronger one will be in larger typeface. (In some tongues, e.g. French, on occasion all syllables are emphasized uniformly--which is to say, not emphasized at all!)

Special situations: "zh"...This is borrowed from dictionaries. It represents a "soft 'g'", as in "mirage". Most frequently, though, for our purposes, it will represent the Portuguese "j" that we encounter via Brazil (e.g., "Jobim").  The dreaded umlaut...Yes, it's that cute little pair of dots above a vowel in
Teutonic tongues. Dictionaries tell us the vowel is to be pronounced with the mouth rounded, as if saying a "long 'o'". Have fun!

  A-E

  • Abate, Greg   ah-bah-tay   Saxophonist
  • Abrams, Muhal Richard   moo-hol ("hol" as in "holly")   Pianist, com-poser, bandleader
  • Airto   eye-air-toe   (last name: Moreira)    Percussionist
  • Akiyoshi, Toshiko   toe-she-ko ah-ki-yo-she   Pianist, composer, bandleader. [authority: personal interaction with the artist--Spaak]
  • akLaff, Pheeroan   fair-own  ahk-lahf   Drummer  [authority: personal interaction with the artist--Spaak]
  • Allyson, Karrin   car-inn  al-liss-un    Vocalist
  • Almeida, Laurindo   lor-een-do ahl-may-dah   ("lor" rhymes with "oar") Classical/jazz guitarist.
  • Arnold, Horacee   Disregard that final 'e' (it's "silent"). Drummer
  • Atkinson, Lisle   L"isle" as in another term for "island"   Bassist
  • "Au Privave"   oh pree-vahv ("ah" as in "Stick out your tongue and say 'ahh'")   Charlie Parker tune, often misprinted as "Au Private"
  • Ayler, Albert   eye-ler   Avant garde saxophonist
  • Barbieri, Gato   gah-toe bar-bee-air-ee   Argentine saxophonist
  • Bates, Django   zhane-go   Pianist/composer
  • Beaudoin, Gerry   bow-dun   ("dun" as in "dungaree")   Guitarist
  • Bechet, Sidney   beh-shay   Legendary soprano saxophonist, clarinetist
  • Benoit, David   beh-noyt   Pianist (He prefers this "Americanized" version of French name.)
  • Bigard, Barney   bi-guard   ("bi" as in "bit") New Orleans clarinetist, Ellington stalwart
  • Blake, Ran   "ran" as in "She 'ran' away."   Pianist/composer
  • Blake, Seamus   shay-muss   A fine ol' Irish name!    Saxophonist
  • Bley, Carla; Bley, Paul   blay   Pianist/composers, bandleader (Carla)
  • Bluiett, Hamiet   ham-ee-it blew-it   Saxophonist, arranger, producer. Alternative:  ham-it    [Authority for latter: Personal conversation with the artist by Richard Paske, dpmusic, St. Paul, MN]
  • Boland, Francis   frahn-see  bo-lahn    ("bo" as in "bonus")   French big band leader
  • Bonfa, Luiz   lou-eez bone-fah   Brazilian songwriter, (?) pianist
  • Bunnett, Jane   buh-net   Flutist 
  • Catingub, Matt   cat-tin-goob   Arranger, big band leader
  • Childers, Buddy   chill-ders   Trumpeter
  • Chopin, Frédéric   fray-day-reek shu-pan   ("shu" as in "shut"; 'n' in last name said with "nasal" tone, and half-swallowed)   Francified Polish piano master, composer of 19th Century; occasional dedicatee of modern jazz homages
  • Cohen, Avishai   ah-vi-shy   ("vi" as in "vintage")   Bassist
  • Coleman, Cy   "sigh"   Songwriter
  • "Concierto de Aranjuez"   cone-see-air-toe  day  ah-rahn-wezz   (now here's the really good part: the second 'c' in first word and the last syllable of final word are...lisped!! To execute this correctly, you should end up with your tongue protruding between your upper and lower teeth. Try it--it's fun!)  Composition for guitar and orchestra by J. Rodrigo, served as inspiration for famous Gil Evans/Miles Davis collaboration, among others
  • "Crepuscule With Nellie"   cray-pus-skyool   Thelonious Monk tune (in French: "Crépuscule avec Nellie"), sometimes misspelled "crepescule", more or less translating to "Twilight With Nellie"
  • Cyrille, Andrew   sir-rill   Percussionist
  • Danielsson, Palle   pol-uh  dahn-el-sson   ("pol" as in "policy"; "sson"-- "hissy" kind of 's' sound, long 'o')   Drummer
  • Debussy, Claude   de-byoo-see   ("de" as in "debt")   19th/20th Century French "impressionist" composer, whose works are occasionally given a "jazz slant"
  • "Dindi"   zheen-zhee   A.C. Jobim composition
  • DiPaola-Davis, Mary   dee-pow-luh   Pianist
  • Dorough, Bob   durr-oh   ("durr" rhymes with "purr")   Singer/song-writer
  • D'Rivera, Paquito   pah-key-toe day-ree-vair-ah   Saxophonist
  • Duvivier, George   dew-vee-vee-ay   ("ay" as in "day")   Bassist
  • Eade, Dominique   dom-ee-neek eed   Vocalist
  • Eckstine, Billy   ekk-styne   Legendary baritone singer and one-time leader of wickedly "hot" big band in early years of bop  [listed because reportedly said as "eck-steen" on occasion]
  • Elias, Eliane   el-lee-ahn-ay eh-lee-ahz   Pianist/vocalist
  • enja   en-yah   ("en" as in "engine")   German label
  • "Estate"   e-stah-tay  ('e' as in "edge")  Composition; Portuguese (?) (and Italian, I'm told) for "Summer"   [I take Shirley Horn's pronunciation in performance of this tune as 'gospel'--how could Ms. Horn be wrong??--J.O.S.]
  • Evingson, Connie   long 'e' (as in "eve")    Minnesotan vocalist [authority: personal interaction with the artist--J.O.S.]

 G-K

  • Gaillard, 'Slim'   gay-lird   ("lird" rhymes with "bird")   Guitarist, master of "jive talk". May or may not have been born in Cuba. If he hadn't existed, could anyone really have invented him?
  • Garbarek, Jan   yahn  gar-bah-rek    ("gar" as in "garment", "rek" as in "wreck")   Norwegian reed player, ECM stalwart
  • Gilberto, Astrud   ah-strude  zheel-bare-toe    Brazilian vocalist who rocketed to fame (well, by jazz standards!) through her work with Stan Getz at birth of Bossa Nova era (mid-1960s)
  • Gilberto, Joao   zhwow  zheel-bare-toe    Brazilian composer, singer, pianist
  • Giuffre, Jimmy   jew-free   [sorry, but that's the best phonetic way to put it]   Clarinetist
  • Goykovich, Dusko   dooze-ko  goy-ko-vitch   Trumpet/flugelhorn player
  • Grappelli, Stéphane   stay-fahn  grah-pell-ee   Swing violinist supreme; though forever linked with France, he was born in Italy
  • "Gymnopédies"   zham-nup-ay-dee   ("nup" as in "nuptials")   Series of pieces originally for solo piano, by Erik Satie (the word itself is made-up nonsense); sometimes given a jazz treatment
  • Hammer, Jan   yahn  hah-mer    Keyboardist of Czech origin
  • Hidalgo, Giovanni   zhee-oh-vahn-ee    ee-doll-go   Percussionist
  • "homage"   um-azh    ("um" as in "hum")   French for "in tribute to"; sometimes appears in composition title, e.g. "Homage to Coltrane"
  • Houn, Fred   ho   Saxophonist, composer; in recent years, he has dropped the 'un' from his name to avoid confusion
  • Hughart, Jim   hew-ert    Bassist.  [authority: Personal conversation with the artist by Brian Sanders, KUNV, Las Vegas]
  • Humair, Daniel   dahn-yell  ewe-mare    Swiss-born drummer  [Look, Ma! I got to use the names of two critters in one entry!]
  • Ibrahim, Abdullah   ahb-doo-lah    eeb-rah-heem   South African pianist (formerly known as Dollar Brand)
  • Jacob, Christian   kreest-yahn    zha-cub ("cub" as in baby bear) Pianist
  • Jacquet, Illinois   zha-kay    Saxophonist/bandleader; this is preferred pronunciation [authority: Personal conversation with the artist by Phil Bowler, WPKN-FM], but he's accustomed to "jacket"
  • Jamal, Ahmad   ah-mod  zha-moll   ("mod" as in Mod Squad, "moll" rhymes with "doll")   Pianist
  • Joyce   joyce-ee   Brazilian vocalist
  • Jung, Tom   "ju" as in "judge"    Pioneering digital audio engineer and head of Digital Music Products ("dmp") label
  • Kamuca, Richie   kah-moo-kah    Tenor saxophonist
  • Kirk, Rahsaan Roland   rah-son   ("son" as in "sonic")   Indescribable, truly unique individual; if you ain't hip to him--get there!
  • Knepper, Jimmy   the 'k' is silent    Trombonist
  • Kohlhase, Charlie   coal-hace    Saxophonist

 L-P

  • Lateef, Yusef   yoo-zeff  lah-teef    Multi-instrumentalist, composer
  • Legrand, Michel   mee-shell  loo-grahn   ("loo" like "look")   Composer/bandleader
  • Leonhardt, Jay   len-heart  ("le" like in "lemon")  Bassist [authority: this is how he introduces himself on a live recording]
    Levey, Stan   lee-vee   Drummer
  • Lupri, Matthias   mah-tee-uss  loo-pree    Vibraphonist   [authority: personal communique from the artist]
  • M'boom   oom-boom   Max Roach's percussion ensemble. In southern African tongues, "M'" is pronounced "oom"; so, yes, it's a nice rhyme scheme. Any objections?
  • McEachern, Peter   mick-care-en   (or, simply pretend it's "McCarran")   Trombonist
  • McLaughlin, John   mc-lock-lin   (the "gh" has nothing to do with the word "laugh")   English guitarist of Irish ancestry
  • McLean, Jackie   mc-leen   [Your editor has heard Max Roach, among other well-informed individuals, let this slip as "mc-lane"-- the name is of Scottish origin, after all--but the family itself uses the stated pron.]   Alto saxophonist, educator
  • McLean, René   roo-nay   ("oo" as in "look")   Saxophonist, son of above
  • Makowicz, Adam   ah-dahm  mah-koh-vitch    Pianist of Czech origin
  • Marsalis, Delfeayo   delf-ee-oh  mar-sell-iss    Trombonist, producer   [authority: this is how brother Branford pronounced his name when I interviewed the saxophonist. Pronunciation of last name applies to the whole "clan", of course]
  • Masekela, Hugh    moss-ay-kay-lah    ("moss" as in the soft, green plant life; just don't say it like a New Yorker ["mawss"], please!) South African trumpet/flugelhorn player
  • Michel, Ed;  Michel, Lisa   mee-shell   (French-style)    Since daughter (vocalist) says it this way, we'll make bold assumption that it's correct for papa (legendary recording session producer)
  • Michelot, Pierre   pee-yair  meesh-low    French bassist
  • Moncur, Grachan  III   gray-shun  mon-core    ("mon" as in "monetary")   Trombonist.   This is consensus pronunciation; anyone have contradictory, authoritative info? Give it up!
  • Monk, Thelonious   theh-loan-ee-uss    ("th" as in "threat")   Pianist, composer   [Your editor suspects it's an "urban legend" that a college
    radio announcer once said this as "the loneliest monk"--but that was the caption when his portrait appeared on the cover of Time magazine! For years, his first name was misspelled by omitting the second 'o']
  • Montreux   moan-trooh   (the 'n' is kind of half-swallowed, the "oo" like in "look" with last syllable kind of explosive, the 'x' is silent)   Swiss
    site of famous jazz festival   [ironically, if there was an 'a' after the 'e', the way Americans mispronounce this would be close to correct-- except they still wouldn't get the first syllable right! French--you gotta love it!]
  • Motian, Paul   moe-shun   (like "motion")   Drummer
  • Musillami, Michael   muzz-ih-lahm-ee    ("muzz" like in "muzzle") Guitarist
  • Mutet    'mu' as in "mutate"   Group led by reed player Jeff Coffin   [authority: Mr. Coffin's own pronuciation in a live performance--J.O.S.]
  • "Naima"   nah-eem-ah   John Coltrane composition, named for his wife
  • Newborn, Phineas   Jr.   finn-ee-iss    Pianist   [Jon Pollack of WMBR--Cambridge, relates that, according to Mr. Newborn's brother, he was given the name "Phinus" at birth, but taunting by peers in his formative years led to his changing his name to Phineas for public consumption; your editor argues that we should use the latter.]
  • Nieske, Bob   ness-key   New England-based bassist
  • "Nuages"   nwazh   Django Reinhardt composition; French for "Clouds"
  • Okegwo, Ugonna   ooh-gahn-ah  oh-keg-woh    Bassist
  • Onishi, Junko   zhoon-ko  oh-nee-she    ("oon" as in "loon")   Pianist
  • Ozone, Makoto   mah-koh-toh  oh-zoh-nay    (long 'o' in all cases) Pianist
  • Petrucciani, Michel   mee-shell  peh-true-chee-ah-nee    ("chee" like in "cheese")   Pianist   [as with S. Grappelli, we have a mix of French and Italian heritage here]
  • Ponty, Jean-Luc   zhahn-lyook  poan-tee    ("poan" rhymes with "loan", and of course--it's French, after all--the 'n's are half-swallowed...i.e., sort of "held back")   Violinist
  • Previte, Bobby   prev-itt   ("ev" as in "seven")   Drummer
  • Puente, Tito   tee-toh  pwen-tay    Percussionist, bandleader
  • Purim, Flora   pooh-reem   Vocalist

 R-T

  • Ravel, Maurice   moh-reese  rah-vell    French composer of 19th/20th Centuries; inspiration for occasional jazz "impressionism" or homage to the composer [who was known to "hang out" with the likes of George Gershwin]
  • Reinhardt, Django   zhane-go  rhine-heart    (long 'a' in first name) Famous "Gypsy" guitarist and collaborator with Grappelli in The Quintet of The Hot Club of France
  • Roche, Betty   ru-shay   ("ru" like in "rush")   Vocalist, most notably with Ellington
  • Rosnes, Renee   ree-nee ros-nehz    ("ros" as in "rosin" or "Roswell") Pianist
  • Rowles, Jimmy   rolls   (as in Rolls Royce)    Pianist
  • "Rue de la Harpe"   ryoo  deh  lah   arp   Composition [French for Harp Street]
  • Rypdal, Terje   tear-yay  rip-doll    ("tear" as in "tear to shreds") Guitarist
  • Saindon, Ed   sane-dun   Vibraphonist    [thanks to Steve Schwartz of WGBH/Boston for this tip]
  • Sanchez, David   dah-veed   Saxophonist
  • Satie, Erik   sah-tee   20th Century French composer/absurdist whose "Gymnopédies" are sometimes given jazz treatment
  • Simon, Edward   see-moan   Pianist of Hispanic heritage
  • Spaak, Jazz Officer   "spock"   [a.k.a. Johann Odysseus Spaak; J.O. Spaak]   Half-Vulcan, half-human purveyor of half-baked jazz radio, who is determined to not be sued by Paramount Television
  • Staton, Dakota   stay-ton   ("ton" as in 2000 lbs.)   Vocalist
  • Styne, Jule   "julie"   Yes, that's how this male songwriter's first name is pronounced
  • Sulieman, Idris   eeh-driss  soo-lay-mahn    ("soo" rhymes with "zoo") Trumpeter
  • Swartz, Harvie   swartz   [Harvie states in an email that he almost gets physically ill if he hears his name pronounced as if there's a 'ch' in it. I guess this one's definitively resolved! Thanks to Fred Bouchard, WMBR--Cambridge, for passing that along.]   Bassist
  • Tchicai, John   chee-kigh   ("kigh" rhymes with "sigh")   Danish reed player
  • Terrasson, Jacky   tear-uh-son    ("tear" as in "tear the paper", "son" as in "sonic")   Pianist   [your editor doubts that this would "cut it" in Jacky's native France, but apparently this is what he's settled for in the English speaking world]
  • Thielemans, 'Toots'   teel-mahnz   Belgian guitarist/harmonica player/whistler
  • Tjader, Cal   jay-der   (yes, the 't' is silent)   Vibraphonist, pioneer in taking Latin jazz mainstream
  • Turrentine, Stanley and Tommy   ter-en-teen    ("ter" like in "term") Saxophonist and trumpeter, respectively

 V-W

  • Vinding, Mads   modz  vin-ding    ("mod" as in "modern", "vin" as in "vintage")   Danish bassist
  • Vitous, Miroslav   meer-uh-slahv  vee-tooz    Bassist
  • Wakenius, Ulf   oohlf  vah-ken-ee-uss    Guitarist
  • Watanabe, Kazumi   kah-zoo-mee  what-uh-nah-bay    Guitarist
  • Watanabe, Sadao   sah-day-oh   Saxophonist
  • Weill, Kurt   court vile   [not a comment on our judicial system-- this is phonetic approximation of this German composer whose "Threepenny Opera" gave us "Mack The Knife". It's said that after Hitlerism forced him into exile, he desired to be "de-Germanized", so an Anglo-ized pron. is acceptable]
  • Whitfield, Weslia   wezz-lah   Vocalist; in recent years, she has dropped the silent 'i' from first name to avoid confusion
  • Winding, Kai   kigh   win-ding    (Careful! "kigh" rhymes with "sigh"; "win" as in "window")   Danish trombonist.   Jim Wilke of "Jazz After Hours" persuaded your editor that this was fine and dandy with the artist in question, regardless of how that 'w' may have been pronounced on Danish soil. Problem? Blame Jim!
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