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Really The Blues
Really The Blues
by Mezz Mezzrow
Edition: Paperback
19 used & new from $29.45

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mezz Brings the Jive of the Early Jazz Age Alive, January 19, 2007
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This review is from: Really The Blues (Paperback)
Often considered a highly unreliable autobiography, 'Really the Blues' is really an insight into the personality of Mezz Mezzrow rather than a factual retelling of his life events. Milton 'Mezz' Mesirow was a Jewish-American jazz clarinetist born in 1899 in Chicago. Mezz quickly showed a penchant for jazz music, like his mentor Louis Armstrong, for whom he briefly may have served as manager.

Although Milton "Mezz" Mesirow is generally remembered as one of the best jazz musicians, Mesirow was in-fact a very technically skilled clarinetist and quite knowledgable about the workings of the jazz music industry. Milton's life was often a product of the demands of the music industry which he found himself.

His personality could best be viewed as a reflection of the rough-and-tumble environment of mob-controlled, Prohibition-era Chicago. Due to the uncertainty of the circumstances abound, Mezz was a fearless rebel-rouser. He took risks, such as smuggling some twenty joints into a New York night club. He was stopped and caught by the police, a violation for which he was arrested and taken to jail. When he arrived, Mezzrow successfully persuaded the officials to let him stay in a black section of the segregated prison by convincing them that he was African American.

In addition to music, race-relations emerges as a theme in the autobiography. Mezz married a black woman, played music like a black person, and was more interested in black culture than in white culture. Mezz also dealt marijuana in spades. His marijuana dealing perhaps earned him higher distinction than his jazz playing. In the lingo of the time, "Mezz" became slang for marijuana. Milton also gained the nickname "Muggles King," at the time "muggles" being a slang word for marijuana.

The writing style featured by Mezz and Bernard Wolfe makes 'Really the Blues' a fast-paced and entertaining read. Mezz's narrative style in 'Really the Blues' is self-assuring, reading as if Mezz were in the room and actively trying to engage the reader. Consequently, the insight that the reader gets into Mesirow's psyche comes not just from the stories, but in large part from the narrative style itself. Mesirow is revealed to the reader through his contemporary grammar, liberal syntax, and the nonchalant method by which he organizes his book.

Reading 'Really the Blues' is an experience unto itself. Mezz takes the reader on a ride through another time, an era defined largely by the times. The reader is also given an entertaining educational look at the life of an important, if somewhat marginalized early jazz musician, Milton "Mezz" Mesirow.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As Good As Expected, January 7, 2007
This review is from: Imagine (Audio CD)
When you buy the soundtrack to the DVD chronicling Lennon's life, you can expect to get the best when it comes to Lennon's music. This includes about an equal mix of John's Beatles and solo tunes, which really allows for Lennon's best to come forward. Notably, it starts out with "Real Love," which began as a solo John track but later (in the 90's during anthology taping) got the full band treatment and became a Beatles tune. I prefer this to "Free As A Bird," and although I like both tunes, I'm glad they chose to include "Real Love" instead of "Free As A Bird." The sountrack continues starting with a cover song from his Beatle days, "Twist and Shout," although one for which he was well known for his raucous singing.

Many of Lennon's hit original tunes from his Beatle days are predictably included here, with "Help!", "In My Life," "Strawberry Fields Forever," "A Day In The Life," "Revolution," "The Ballad of John and Yoko," "Julia," and "Don't Let Me Down" all included. These songs show off the many angles of John Lennon.

Then, several Plastic Ono Band and solo Lennon songs are included on the second half of the soundtrack. "Give Peace A Chance," "How?", "Imagine," "God," "Mother," "Stand By Me," "Jealous Guy," "Woman," "Beautiful Boy," and "(Just Like) Starting Over," are the tracks chosen from Lennon's solo years. All of them are strong tracks. "Imagine" is a rehearsal version, which gives a fresh look at the song by not including the version released on other Lennon CD's. "Stand By Me" is, of course, a cover from his 'Rock 'n' Roll' album, a 1975 release that consisted of all cover songs from the good old days of Rock 'n' Roll. Again, this selection of songs shows off the many sides of John Lennon.

Most importantly, 'Imagine' the soundtrack shows Lennon's superior songwriting ability and shows why he has attained such high status in rock music and music in general. He had a knack for it, and he did it throughout his life. If only his career had been allowed to continue, we would have even more material and more ingenious pop songs and pop records from Lennon. Unfortunately, we must hold onto what we have and take from it what we may. We must not wish for the impossible, and we must accept what we cannot change.

Imagine: John Lennon (Deluxe Edition)
Imagine: John Lennon (Deluxe Edition)
DVD ~ Paul McCartney
Offered by Two Thumbs Up
Price: $10.71
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Informative and Insightful View Into Lennon's Solo Career, January 7, 2007
This DVD is an informative and insightful look at the life and music of John Lennon after the Beatles break-up in 1970. Starting with a clip of John recording "Jealous Guy" in the studio, the DVD explores the different worlds of John Lennon. The music included on this DVD is the essential greatest of Lennon's solo career. "Watching the Wheels" and "Woman" are just two of examples of great Lennon solo material. There is also insight into John's relationship with Yoko, his son Sean, and with his fans.

Lennon is portrayed as the caring and insightful man he was. A laid-back look at his life, this DVD reveals the good man in Lennon, the talented artist, and paints a portrait of one of the greatest 20th century musicians. Lennon simply entertains by being himself and sharing his music.

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