Muller Monthly Music Meta, July

puzzle 10:33; meta 1 hour but incorrect answer (Matt) 


Title: “Jazz Combos”
Prompt: The meta for this puzzle is a category describing some jazz performances.
Answer: DUETS

So let’s look first at my answer, which was certainly found only by me since it requires a hilarious goof to arrive at, and then at the constructor’s intended answer, which was presumably found by all of the 200+ solvers who are on the leaderboard.

I found the following five jazz names hiding in the grid: SATCH (in WASATCH), ELLA (in APPELLATE), MILES (in SIMILES), DUKE (in MARMADUKE), and DIZ (in CADIZ). I took the last names of those five performers, which are, in clockwise order from the center out: Fitzgerald, Armstrong, Davis, Ellington, and Dean. And the first letters of those spell FADED, which I thought might be a common adjective for an old recording (or well-used LP) of a jazz song. I got an extra click from noting that these five letters are also musical notes, which, as the infamous last words of rabbit hole-chasing meta-solvers everywhere go, “can’t be a coincidence.”

Well it can and it was, especially since your brain has to accidentally swap baseball star Dizzy Dean in for jazz great Dizzy Gillespie to get one of the D’s in FADED. D’oh!

Back in the real world, ten jazz nicknames were hiding in the grid, as highlighted in yellow above. BIRD (Charlie Parker), DIZ(zy Gillespie), SATCH (Louis Armstrong), John Col(TRANE), FATS Waller, MILES Davis, DUKE Ellington, COUNT Basie, ELLA Fitzgerald, and I had to look PREZ up but it’s Lester Young whose name is new to me. The five intersections formed by those ten names spell DUETS.

Well I descended into madness rather quickly on that one, so I”ll defer to the rest of you on ratings and comments. Rabbit holes sure are rabbity sometimes and I found me a beauty.

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16 Responses to Muller Monthly Music Meta, July

  1. jefe says:

    Stumped here. got caught in a rabbithole with SEIZE, SEPTA, OCTET (and all the central ATEs). Also FATSIS nearly repeating FAB/SIS at 1/4A

    With a few minutes to go I noticed COUNT, DUKE, MILES, SATCH and knew I was onto something but didn’t have enough time left to get the rest. Haven’t heard of the nicknames PREZ, BIRD, DIZ.

    Good meta! I’m just not a jazz expert.

  2. Pete Muller says:

    Thanks Matt

    212 correct this month.
    Happens to all of us :)

    Meta difficulty starting to step up as we get later in the year…

  3. Steve Blais says:

    I got the E, T, and S crossings relatively easily, although I took FATS to refer to Fats Domino, who according to Google hits did kinda sorta dabble in jazz, which was good enough for me. I also thought the REZA referred to a Reza Khan, a jazz guitarist according to Google who has no Wikipedia entry to speak of, unless you count various namesakes. Then it took me a lot longer than it should have to notice TRANE crossing SATCH, but I finally had T,E,U,S going down the grid, which of course made no sense. I was flummoxed, knowing there had to be another crossing in the northwest but just not being able to see it. It was only when I read the intersections west to east instead of north to south on the afternoon of Sunday that I noticed the partial -UETS. DUETS leapt out at me as a possible answer, and sure enough, there’s a D in the northwest corner. So who are the relevant jazz musicians? I figured DIZ must be a nickname for Dizzy Gillepsie that I hadn’t heard of, and Byrdie Green (who, again according to Wikipedia was sometimes credited as Birdie Green) is a jazz singer from Michigan. Both cross at the D and that sealed it for me. All this is to say I used the right mechanism to get different names for the correct answer. Phew!

    • Steve Blais says:

      That should’ve read E, U, and S as the letters I got quicker than the others. Also, I just looked up DIZ on a lark, and wouldn’t you know it, there’s a Diz Disley who was an Anglo-Canadian jazz guitarist, though I’m sure Dizzy Gillespie was the intended musician :)

    • Abide says:

      Bird is Charlie Parker. Clint Eastwood/Forest Whitaker movie by same name.

  4. David Glasser says:

    I got the basic idea fast but finding all the artists was a bit tough. I was a bit distracted by RAY too, though I guess eg Ray Charles isn’t quite as jazz centric as the rest.

  5. Alex B. says:

    Lester Young is terrific and you should look him up if you haven’t already.

  6. Karen says:

    The first ones I found were Count and Duke. Satch and Diz weren’t the familiar forms of the nicknames, but seemed likely. Got Bird and Miles, looked everyone up on Wikipedia, and found the page which proved very helpful. I really enjoyed this one.

    • BarbaraK says:

      I used that list too. Never would have known Prez without it.

      Looking back after solving, I wondered that while eight of the ten are indeed nicknames, two are real first names.

  7. Paul Coulter says:

    LOVED it. It was great to see so many of my favorites. Also brought fond memories, since Pete’s list included every dog I’ve had since I was ten. I always name them after jazz legends.

  8. David Plass says:


  9. Norm H says:

    Great puzzle. I had no idea Lester Young was known as “Prez” so, like Steve Blais, I first found Reza Khan. But he seemed extremely obscure compared to the other legends, so I soldiered on. Not that it would have mattered for my submission, but it was nice to get the full intended set.

    I “discovered” jazz only about 15 years ago, and I had no idea who Lester Young was until I bought a Charles Mingus record and heard “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat”, Mingus’s elegy to Young. Beautiful song…and only last weekend did I learn that Joni Mitchell put lyrics to it for an album in the late 70s. Jazz truly is endless discovery.

  10. Rammy M says:

    Some of the names names were a bit ambiguous. At first I had (Rashied) ALI instead of DIZ, giving me the word SUITE for the intersecting letters. That couldn’t be the answer.
    I nearly submitted (a weak guess) “crossover” (a jazz category, but not a jazz Performance category), because the pairs of names “cross over” each other. (of course they do, it’s a Crossword) Fortunately I had some last minute insight just before I submitted my hail mary.

  11. TMart says:

    I got the right answer, but had Dave Pell crossing Prez rather than the (now) more obvious Ella. Jazz is not my area of expertise but sometimes Google comes through.

  12. Andy Keller says:

    Anyone else have (Sun) RA instead of DIZ crossing BIRD? When RTEUS (or RUETS when I got it and realized it was left to right rather than top to bottom) led absolutely nowhere, eventually got to the right place.

  13. Richard K. says:

    I loved this puzzle! Found all ten names and, like Rammy, came up with “crossover.” Unfortunately, my “last-minute” insight came a few minutes after I sent in that answer. Ah, well, try again next time.

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