Mezz_Mezzrow_web_page

I am an avid collector of Mezz Mezzrow references (born Milton Mesirow Nov. 9, 1899, died Aug. 5, 1972). Interested in  jazz articles discussing this controversial clarinet and sax player, even ones that only briefly mention him and his activities. In the future I plan on compiling a reference list containing the dozens of Mezzrow articles I have found during my marijuana research.  I am very interested in working with a jazz historian on a publication about the life of Mezzrows after publishing his book “Really The Blues”. Oddly enough, I haven’t been able to find the few newspaper references Mezzrow mentioned in his book. A brief mention of the articles can be found on page 289 (first edition). The stories are in regards to Mezzrow’s band, the “Disciples Of Swing” being the first mixed jazz band.

Is there anyone who can help me track down the following articles? The stories are thought to appear between November 28th 1937 and January of 1938, based on the New York Times article “News And Gossip Of Night Clubs” that mentions the Harlem Uproar House gig having occurred (Nov. 28, 1937 p. 10X).  A researcher visiting The New York State Library would yield the best results for the following articles, as well as being able to do more extensive reference searches (card catalogs, newspaper clipping collections, special collections of music material, etc…)

  • The Orchestra World – Headline: “Ofay-Sepia ‘Disciples Of Swing’ Shatter Big Town Traditions”.
  • Tempo – In the “news of the month” section.
  • Billboard –, full page headline?: “Mixed Band Bows On Broadway” with possible by line of “Mezzrow Takes Sepia & Ofay Swingsters Out in the Open”.

Also looking for a Mezz Mezzrow album cover said by Leonard Feather to mention  the Harlem Uproar House gig having been “vandalized by fascist hoods”.

Also looking for the date when Bernard Wolfe’s afterword to  ”Really The Blues” was inserted into the book?  Some time after 1968, but before October 1985? Answer 1973: I found the information published in the Music Educators Journal, in an article entitled, Really the Blues, Mar 1973, p 97:  …”Originally published in 1946, the account contains a new afterword by Bernard Wolfe, who collaborated on the book with Mezzrow. Details on the $2.50 Anchorage Book can be obtained from Doubleday & Company, Inc.  …”

Also looking for Mezzrow’s two lost trunks, one lost in New York early on in his career, containing among other jazz memorabilia his 365,000 words cut out of Really The Blues during the editing process, and the second trunk lost in Paris after his death in 1972 containing Really The Blues Part Two previously submitted to Henry Miller in 1970.

Also looking for the original twelve-inch acetate discs of Mezz Mezzrows “Really The Blues Concert”, performed on January 1, 1947, in New York’s Town Hall. The recording  was edited and transferred to record and distributed by Jazz Archives in 1978. I bought the Jazz Archive version  of “Really The Blues Concert” for my collection, but was greatly disappointed to find Mezzrow’s commentary on the music was edited out.  On the back of the Album author Chris Albertson stated, among other things, that ”The album ends, as did the concert (except for some commentary and a few plugs by Mezzrow)” On the lower right corner of the record album the jacket also states “Special thanks to Chris Albertson who made this valuable source of material available to us from his personal collection.” but upon contacting Chris he stated that he had never owned the original acetates of the concert and does not know what happened to them. The next step is contacting the other people involved withthis jazz vinyl, which are as follows, Executive Producer: Marvin Goldsmith & Jerry Valburn, Technical Supervision: Jerry Valburn, Transfer & Editing: Jack Towers & Jerry Valburn, Mastering: Don Van Golden & Soundwave Studios, Cover Art & Production: Jayo Zabriskie, Liner Layout: Madeline Sloan. — I have contacted Dan Morgenstdern, who in turn contacted Jerry Valburn for me, who did the Transfer & Editing of the concert. Evidently, Jerry Valburn obtained the “Really The Blues Concert” from  the late Kurt Stern, but Jerry has no idea who Kurt obtain it from or what happened to the original twelve inch acetate discs. Oddly enough, the late Kurt Stern is not even mentioned on the album. Therefore,  no real leads have been obtained yet. Can anyone help me?

Really  The Blues Concert Credits

SIDE ONE

1. Darktown Strutters Ball                 (A)   (Shelton Brooks)

2. The Blues                                             (A)   (Ad-Lib)

3. Muskrat Ramble                               (A)   (Edward Ory)

4. Sammy’s Boogie Woogie Blues   (B)   (Sammy Price)

5. You Can’t Do That To Me              (C)   (Wesley Wilson)

SIDE TWO

1. There’ll Be Some Changes Made   (D)   (Higgins-Overstreet)

2. Friar’s Point Shuffle                           (D)   (McKenzie.-Condon)

3. Really The Blues                                 (D)   (Mezz Mezzrow)

4. Really The Blues (Extension)        (D)   (Mezz Mezzrow)

5. High Society                                         (D)   (Williams-Piron)

(A) Muggsy Spanier, coronet; Sandy Williams, trombone; Sidney Bechet, soprano sax; Sammy Price, piano; Wellman Braud, bass; Baby Dodds, drums

(B) Sammy Price, piano; Bady Dodds, drums

(C) Coot Grand and “Kid Sox” Wesley Wilson, vocal with Wesley Wilson, piano

(D) Same as “A” but add Mezz Mezzrow, clarinet

Can anyone help me contact jazz criticNat Hentoff, associate editor of Down Beat magazine from 1953 through 1957? I tried to contact Nat several times with no luck. I was hoping he could explain his February 11, 1953 Down Beat article “Counterpoint” by Nat Hentoff on page 5. One of the harshest criticisms of Mezzrow that I have ever found referenced in a publication. Toward the end of Hentoff’s Counterpoint article he also quoted from a French publication called Jazz-Hot about a Paris concert review that he claimed to back up his harsh criticism of Mezzrow, which I would like to examine in hopes of laying this one to rest. In his article Nat Hentoff quoted  this statement in regards to the Paris J.M.F. sponsored concert (Jeunesses Musicales de France), “The concert itself was characterized by Jazz-Hot as “beaucoup de bruit pour rien” (a lot of noise for nothing). ” However, when I conducted my search through Jazz-Hot magazine from Dec 1952 through Jun of 1953 I failed to find the quote. I suspect Nat Hentoff fabricated the quote  to back up his hash criticism of Mezzrow.

Feb. 27, 2010 update–I was informed that Nat does not communicate by e-mail, evidently he still prefers SASE’s.  In late December, 2009 I received a reply to my inquiry. From what I can tell by his poorly written letter, he apparently did not feel the need to explain his statements or the one he attributed to Jazz-Hot in the ”Counterpoint” article. He just took the opportunity to bash Mezzrow again without an explanation. Nat sounds like a a broken record, he just repeats the same bull shit over and over again.

Any help with my reference searches will be greatly appreciated.

I am also interested in buying $$$ Mezz Mezzrow Jazz memorabilia.

Uncle Mike

Trackback

no comment until now

Add your comment now

You must be logged in to post a comment.