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Really the Blues by Mezz Mezzrow
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Really the Blues (original 1946; edition 2009)

by Mezz Mezzrow

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230591,459 (4.06)5
Mezz Mezzrow was a boy from Chicago who learned to play the sax in reform school and pursued a life in music and a life of crime. He moved from Chicago to New Orleans to New York, working in brothels and bars, bootlegging, dealing drugs, getting hooked, doing time, producing records, and playing with the greats, among them Louis Armstrong, Bix Beiderbecke, and Fats Waller. Really the Blues, the jive-talking memoir that Mezzrow wrote at the insistence of, and with the help of, the novelist Bernard Wolfe, is the story of an unusual and unusually American life, and a portrait of a man who moved freely across racial boundaries when few could or did, "the odyssey of an individualist . . . the saga of a guy who wanted to make friends in a jungle where everyone was too busy making money."… (more)
Member:RJD61
Title:Really the Blues
Authors:Mezz Mezzrow
Info:Souvenir Press Ltd (2009), Paperback, 416 pages
Collections:Your library
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Really the Blues by Mezz Mezzrow (1946)

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Showing 5 of 5
A one of a kind document, which is the best thing you can say about a book.
Reviewed here.
  JazzBookJournal | Feb 8, 2021 |
I picked this up after it was mentioned in Diane di Prima's "Memoirs of a Beatnik", which I had read recently. It's a decent read, with a lot of the interest lying in the fact that the author was describing a time when jazz was blossoming, and the language, attitudes, and culture that went with that. The language was probably most interesting to me, all of the slang and such, and the glossary in the back is super helpful. Who knew that before Harry Potter, "muggles" meant marijuana cigarettes! Pretty funny in my opinion!
As for the negative, the overall tone of the writing is braggadocios and filled with name dropping, in a way that started to feel almost "Forrest Gump" like. I mean, Mezzrow hears a piano being played, opens the door, and there is Jelly Roll Morton! He talks back to Al Capone! He unknowingly makes friends with the notorious Purple Gang! It just goes on and on like that, making it feel like fiction, or at least a lot of truth stretching! Oh yes, and he writes quite a bit about what a good jazz musician he is. No humble pie for this guy!
Despite all of that, I did like the read. He really captures the "scene" and true or not, I was glad to pick it up! And I'll never think of muggles in the same way again. :-) ( )
1 vote Stahl-Ricco | Mar 23, 2018 |
Mezz Mezzrow, clarinetiste oublié aujourd'hui, nous fait revivre les premières heures du Jazz et le Chicago d'Al Capone ! ( )
  jd.crouhy | Sep 7, 2011 |
Published in the late 1940s, this book had to be a huge influence on the Beat Generation writers - and yet, that comes as a surprise because who's heard of this man or his book? Presented here is the life of Mezz Mezzrow - "the guy, behind the guy" in the Jazz world. Drug addict, drug pusher, and good friends with - and musical director of - Louis Armstrong, Mezz tells the story behind the scenes of the jazz explosion of the 20s and beyond. Written in Harlem vernacular, you don't need to understand jive to dig his story, you can simply dig the language itself; however, if you're not a jazz aficionado, the many people/musicians Mezz writes about will be completely foreign and seem somewhat insignificant to the plot-line - but how can one equate one's life with a plot-line anyway? All in all, a good document of the counterculture of the 20s. ( )
1 vote NateJordon | Feb 26, 2009 |
Really the Blues is just as much about the counter culture of the twenties and thirties as it is about the music. That’s what I loved most about this book, that through it I saw how much of the social movements of the last fifty years were rooted in that time. Mezzrow sometimes sounds a lot like a DIY punk, frustrated at the money makers of the music industry even seventy five years ago. Like musicians do today, there’s lots of talk about “the kids”. Even then it was the young that were embracing new forms of music and the social changes that often go with them. It made me feel hopeful that there are always people who see through false values and work towards change. But then, it’s also a reminder that the more things change, the more they stay the same. ( )
2 vote LynnMarie | Nov 11, 2006 |
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» Add other authors (28 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Mezz Mezzrowprimary authorall editionscalculated
Wolfe, Bernardmain authorall editionsconfirmed
Wolfe, Bernardsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Duhamel, MarcelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gautier, MadeleineTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Giachino, EnzoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gifford, BarryIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Miller, HenryPrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Mezz Mezzrow was a boy from Chicago who learned to play the sax in reform school and pursued a life in music and a life of crime. He moved from Chicago to New Orleans to New York, working in brothels and bars, bootlegging, dealing drugs, getting hooked, doing time, producing records, and playing with the greats, among them Louis Armstrong, Bix Beiderbecke, and Fats Waller. Really the Blues, the jive-talking memoir that Mezzrow wrote at the insistence of, and with the help of, the novelist Bernard Wolfe, is the story of an unusual and unusually American life, and a portrait of a man who moved freely across racial boundaries when few could or did, "the odyssey of an individualist . . . the saga of a guy who wanted to make friends in a jungle where everyone was too busy making money."

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