2020 Puzzle 7: “Jazz Combos” Solution

This month’s MMMM challenged solvers to find a category describing some jazz performances. The grid has no obvious theme entries, so now what? Scanning reveals a few jazz nicknames (DUKE, FATS, …), and then a few more. A deeper search produces five intersecting pairs: BIRD/DIZ, COUNT/DUKE, MILES/FATS, TRANE/SATCH, and PREZ/ELLA.

If you take the letters where the pairs intersect in order of their appearance in the grid, you get D-U-E-T-S, or DUETS, a category describing some jazz performances, and this month’s meta answer.

FunkyPhD points out that (coincidentally!) four of these pairs actually performed together – all except TRANE and SATCH.

It was hard to completely avoid a few stray jazz nicknames entering the grid, which made the solve slightly trickier for some. Aptly named solver Bird Lives points out that jazz guitarist TAL Farlow and Duke’s trumpeter CAT Anderson have wandered onto the bandstand. RAY Charles shows up as well.


Meta Song:

Thought I’d share a duet that I performed recently with my band. It’s got a violin solo and some major seventh chords, which makes it a little jazzy.


Selected Solver Comments:

Rocklouder2424   There is nothing quite so sweet as that “aha” moment when the meta finally hits you. Satch and Miles jumped out at me first, and then the rest started falling into place. Great puzzle!   Thank you!

Myelbow   Found five of the hidden names, and was amazed to realize a little while later that I’d only spotted half of them!

kettlecorn   This puzzle gives me hope that after we get through this disaster, we can go back to a favorite old record store and reacquaint ourselves with some old familiar names.   Amen!

Hollie   The crossing of Trane with Ray held me up for a while … but Duets seems like a much better solution than Rusted!

Pink   I spent half an hour reading about jazz on Wikipedia…great music history lesson!

Paul Coulter   Your list includes the names of all the dogs I’ve had since I was a kid – I always name them after jazz legends.   Those are some cool cats — I mean dogs…


Alternative Music Clues:

Evan suggests cleverly cluing SIMILES as [“Hungry Like the Wolf” and “Solid as a Rock,” e.g.].

DIS suggests cluing UKRAINE as [Home of some knockouts, in “Back in the U.S.S.R.”].



LaceyK   Thank you for the music…the meta…and all that JAZZ!

Abide   When I finished I thought “This guy Getz it”!


A total of 212 solvers found their way to the correct answer this month. The average rating for the puzzle was 4.34 stars out of 5, the highest of the year so far, and the average difficulty rating was 3.50. This month’s randomly chosen winner of an MMMM coffee mug is Alexis Wise from Reno, NV. Thanks to Matt Gaffney for blogging the puzzle at Crossword Fiend, where you can rate the puzzle (thanks!) and/or leave a comment.

Thanks for playing and see you next month!