Jazz Birthdays: Mezz Mezzrow (1899) and Muggsy Spanier (1906?)

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Clarinetist and blues-lover Mezz Mezzrow was a character, as this bio and his own book Really the Blues attest. Mezzrow recognized the link between jazz and freedom. He said that a creative musician “was an anarchist with a horn”. He flouted the drug laws and went to jail three times. I am told that Mezzrow was a fan of Mencken. He plays “Blues in Disguise”, “Clarinet Marmelade”, and “Gone Away Blues”. Mezzrow is known for having organized sessions that led to a New Orleans revival, such as in the preceding song with Sidney Bechet, and for supplying so much marijuana to fellow musicians that  they called it “mezz” and he became known as the “muggles king”.

Muggsy Spanier was a cornetist and band leader in the Chicago group. His birth date is in dispute. Although he didn’t stray too far from the melody, his deceptively simple style and distinctive playing was marked by a variety of lip trills, slurs, shakes, and half-valve techniques. He’s known for the “Great 16“, which is a set of 16 tunes he led. “Relaxin’ at the Touro“, “At the Jazz Band Ball“, “Lonesome Road“, and “Big Butter and Egg Man“.

6:14 am on November 9, 2012