Mezzrow, Milton

views updated


MEZZROW, MILTON (Mesirow, Mezz ; 1899–1972), jazz clarinetist. Born in Chicago, Mezzrow became one of the outstanding representatives of the Chicago style. In the mid-1920s he played occasionally with the Austin High School Gang in Chicago and recorded with the Chicago Rhythm Kings, the Louisiana Rhythm Kings, and Eddie Condon. During the 1930s and 1940s he was among the first white jazz musicians to perform with African American musicians, such as Tommy Ladnier and Sidney Bechet, with whom he appeared in New York and Paris. In 1937 he founded one of the earliest interracial jazz bands, led a band at Kelly's Stable (1943), and worked with Art Hodes (1943–44). In 1945 he became a co-founder and the president of the King jazz label. During the early 1950s Mezzrow moved to France, where he worked as an entrepreneur, organizing all-star touring bands, and appeared in the films Vedettes en pantoufles (1953) and Premier festival Européen de jazz (1954). His recordings include Really the Blues (1938); Royal Garden Blues (1938); Comin' On with the Come On (1938); Revolutionary Blues (1938); Gone Away Blues (1945); Out of the Gallion (1945); Really the Blues (1947); and Mezz Mezzrow à la Schola Cantorum (1955).

add. bibliography:

Grove online; M. Mezzrow and B. Wolf, Really the Blues (1946); J. Simmen, "L'importante contributionde Mezz Mezzrow au jazz," in: bhcf, 342 (1986), 7.

[Israela Stein (2nd ed.)]