Mezz Mezzrow

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Mezz Mezzrow, approx. November 1946.
Photograph by William P. Gottlieb .

Mezz Mezzrow (* 9. November 1899 in Chicago as Milton Mesirow ; † 5. August 1972 in Paris ) was an American jazz - clarinetist and saxophonist .

Live and act

Mezzrow had a childhood and adolescence marked by difficult social circumstances, which led him to prison in 1917. There he learned to play the clarinet from some of his fellow inmates, so that he played as a member of the white jazz scene in the Austin High School Gang in Chicago in the 1920s , was at times a member of the Chicago Rhythm Kings and recorded with the Jungle Kings . In 1927 Mezzrow went to New York and performed there with Eddie Condon . In 1929 he stayed for a short time in Paris, where he met Hugues Panassié . During the 1930s he made recordings with his own band, The Disciples of Swing and others. a. for the label Swing , and recorded his composition Really the Blues with Tommy Ladnier . His recording with Sidney Bechet and cousin Joe , Weary Blues, is famous . From 1945 to 1947 he owned his own record company, the King Jazz Label, in which u. a. Sidney Bechet has been released. In addition to his musical career and his work for the rights of the colored people in the USA, he was known as a marijuana supplier in the 1940s.

In 1948 Mezz Mezzrow emigrated to France, where he performed at the Nice Jazz Festival in 1949. From his residence in Paris, he made many tours of France, many with US musicians visiting Europe. He made records in France a. a. up with Lee Collins and Buck Clayton . Mezzrow's clarinet style is described as earthy and intense.

Mezz Mezzrow in his office, around November 1946. Photo: William P. Gottlieb

In 1946 Mezzrow wrote, together with the writer Bernard Wolfe as co-author, the autobiography Really the Blues , which is considered an excellent portrayal of the Chicago and New York milieus during the Prohibition period and the economic crisis .

King Jazz

Mezzrow's label King Jazz existed from 1945 to 1947. The label released recordings by Mezz Mezzrow himself, which he performed between July 1945 and December 1947 in various line-ups with Sammy Price (under the pseudonym Jimmy Blythe Jr.), cousin Joe (alias Pleasant Joe ), Pops Foster , Baby Dodds , Hot Lips Page (under the pseudonym "Papa" Snowhite), Sidney Bechet , Fritz Weston , Wesley "Socks" Wilson , Wellman Braud , Sid Catlett , Kaiser Marshall , Douglas Daniels and Coot Grant . The recordings were re-released on the Danish label Storyville Records . Mezz Mezzrow tried with the label and self-marketing through his own record store to make up ground against the younger musicians of the jazz scene, who, in his opinion, “did not have the right feeling for jazz”.

Discographic notes



  • Knaurs Jazz Lexikon, Munich / Zurich 1957

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Discographic information at 78discography
  2. Tom Lord : The Jazz Discography (online, accessed November 7, 2014)
  3. Sidney Bechet & Mezz Mezzrow: The King Jazz Records Story (2013) in All About Jazz
  4. Sidney Bechet & Mezz Mezzrow: The King Jazz Records Story in Jazz Weekly
  5. The label is not to be confused with the King Jazz Series , edited by King Records in 1956 , in which Japanese bands of the time were released. See Sepp Linhart, Sabine Breakfast The Culture of Japan as Seen through Its Leisure . 1998, p. 306