Green’s Dictionary of Slang

Jack the Bear n.

[rhy. sl.; Wolfe & Mezzrow (1946) ‘When you’re like Jack the Bear, you ain’t nowhere, because for a good part of the year a bear is just huddled snugly in a hole, oblivious to the world. His brother, No Fu’er, is in the same sorry predicament, far from alert’]

(US black) a general derog. term; a failure, a fool; occas. used positively to mean a success; see also just like the bear, ain’t nowhere under bear n.

[US]Duke Ellington [song title] Jack the Bear.
[US]Pittsburgh Courier (PA) 27 Apr. 7/6: You have to play hard as Jack the Bear or you won’t get anywhere.
[US]Mezzrow & Wolfe Really the Blues 218: You’re just like Jack the Bear, ain’t no-where, and like his brother No Fu’ther.
[US]F. Newton Jazz Scene 292: Jack the Bear: nowhere.