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[02] Really The Blues E-mail
Viper Mad
Wednesday, 28 December 2005 05:47
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Part II

"Really The Blues"


In the highest tradition
of American democracy
Louis Armstrong
& Mezz Mezzrow
rose up out of the ghetto
to make their mark on the world 

Milton Mesirow, born 1899
grew up hustling on the streets
of Chicago's northwest side
& in Glick's Poolroom,
did three years
on a car theft beef

in the Pontiac Reformatory
where he learned about music
from his fellow prisoners
of African descent, & back in Chicago
Mezz heard Alberta Hunter,
Freddie Keppard & Sidney Bechet play:

'Sidney Bechet's curved soprano
put a bug in my head. As soon
as I could blow
three notes on it, I'd practice
the "St. Louis Blues". One day
in 1924

I was walking down Madison Street
past a music shop
& heard "Downhearted Blues"
by Bessie Smith. That was a great moment
in my life. And "Cemetery Blues"
inspired me to become a musician.'


By that time
Mezz had been released
from Bridewell Prison & a bit
for possession of guns, & he came out
determined to get out of the rackets
& make music his profession 

driven more than anything
like all the young cats in Chicago
of his generation, by the example
of the King Oliver Band
& its new trumpet sensation,
Mr. Louis Armstrong

straight up from the Third Ward
of New Orleans,
born in 1901 & brought up
at the epicenter
of the action
in the days when jazz emerged,

Rampart & Perdido,
Funky Butt Hall,
sent to the Colored Waif's Home For Boys
at the age of 12
for shooting off a pistol
on New Year's Eve,

taught to play the cornet
at the reformatory, & then
back running the streets
of the Red Light District,
playing the brass band parades,
working the riverboats

with the Fate Marable band,
& finally called up to Chicago
to join the Creole Jazz Band
at the Lincoln Gardens
& turn the world of music
upside down



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