Test your Jazz IQ -How to Entertain the Audience During Intermission

jazz logo  We started to include a jazz quiz at each concert in 1987.  I would hand out a written quiz at the ticket counter and then spend a few minutes during the intermission asking the audience for answers. Here’s an example of an early quiz.

jazz quiz

Sample jazz quiz

I have spent my entire professional life in the classroom and don’t  suffer from stage fright. I found it easy to take the mike and encourage people to participate. If the crowd was large I divided the audience in two and alternated between one section and another.

Why do it?  On the surface I hoped to get people a little more interested in jazz history. In addition I had learned from Mario the importance of creating a personal connection with the audience. The quiz gave me the chance to communicate directly with the people in the room, create a less formal atmosphere, and introduce some humor into the mix.

In the beginning I actually made up the questions myself and was pretty confident about the answers. That’s probably because the questions were quite easy. However, it didn’t take me very long to run out of material. Fortunately Marshall Wood loved jazz trivia and probably still does. I enlisted his help and for years he supplied me with questions and answers, whether or not he was performing at the concert. He would always find time to talk to me even if he was on the road. Marshall was very kind to help me out on this and I hope he knows how much I appreciated his input. Sometimes his questions were quite obscure and I finally had to explain to him that the idea was not to stump the audience but to make them feel happy that they got the right answer.

Jazz iq test

Nancy Alimansky conducts a jazz IQ test
photograph by Ruth Williams

From time to time a controversy would arise during the quiz because my answers (or rather the ones Marshall gave me) didn’t always match what some erudite jazz audience member would offer. I always gave in. After all, they weren’t even my questions. I think the audience really enjoyed having the quiz and I continued it for at least ten years and maybe more.

Answers to the quiz-

Part A

  1. Louis Armstrong
  2. Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Nat King Cole
  3. Count Basie
  4. Ragtime, Dixieland, swing and bebop
  5. Ragtime- Fats Waller
  6. Dixeland Louis Armstrong, Swing Benny Goodman, Bebop Charlie Parker

Part B

1.Hoagie Carmichael

2. “April in Paris,” “September Song,” “June is busting out all over”

3. “Baby it’s cold outside,” “Summertime,”  “Singin in the rain,” “White Christmas”

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