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Sidney Bechet & Mezz Mezzrow: The King Jazz Records Story

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Three decades before Norman Mailer in 1957 drew attention to the social phenomenon of the “white negro," Mezz Mezzrow claimed to be just that. To use his own terminology, he was “a voluntary negro." Actually an American Jew, he played clarinet in the 1930s and 40s, often, as here, alongside Sidney Bechet. He supplemented his meager earnings as a musician by supplying marijuana to fellow jazzmen, including--famously--Louis Armstrong. He sold so much that for a while a joint came to be known in Harlem as a “mezz." When the law caught up with Mezzrow ...

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Mezz Mezzrow

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Mezz Mezzrow was the hippest of white hipster jazz musicians in 1920s Chicago and 1930s New York. He was a respected player as well as a scenester who hung with both black and white musicians. Mezzrow's autobiography Really the Blues was a real discovery for me. It has a vibe of authenticity I've not found in other accounts of those times--he captures what it was really like to hit the clubs and late-night jams, to hang out offstage after hours, and the effects (up and down) of various substances on the music. Mezzrow paints a gritty, colorful picture of ...



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