Mezz Mezzrow


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Mezz Mezzrow was never that strong a player. His technique was weak and although he played with enthusiasm and was decent on the blues, he fumbled a lot. However, Mezz did appear on a lot of significant recordings through the years, and some are on this Classics CD. Playing tenor, Mezzrow is heard in 1928 with the Chicago Rhythm Kings, the Jungle Kings (the same group under a different name), Frank Teschemacher's Chicagoans, and the Louisiana Rhythm Kings. Those six titles by overlapping bands feature such major players early in their careers as cornetist Muggsy Spanier, clarinetist Frank Teschemacher, pianist Joe Sullivan, Eddie Condon (on banjo), and drummer Gene Krupa; Red McKenzie takes a vocal on "There'll Be Some Changes Made." Also on this CD are eight swing-oriented numbers from 1933-1934 by a big band headed by Mezzrow and including such top musicians as trumpeter Max Kaminsky, trombonist Floyd O'Brien, altoist Benny Carter, Bud Freeman on tenor, and either Teddy Wilson or Willie "The Lion" Smith on piano. Despite the inclusion of such titles as "Free Love" and "Dissonance," the music is essentially no-nonsense swing. This CD is rounded off by four selections from Art Karle and His Boys (mainly showcases for the dated vocals of Chick Bullock, although trumpeter Frankie Newton is in the backup band) and two songs from Mezz's first 1936 session as a leader. The excellent and often essential music is obviously of greatest interest for the contributions of the many all-stars.

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