Tuesday, April 6, 2010

R.I.P.: Mike Zwerin

(born on May 18, 1930 in New Yor, NY, USA;
died on April 2, 2010 in Paris, France)

pics by Luciane Maia

Mike Zwerin, Trombone Player Who Sat with Many Jazz Greats, Is Dead at 79
by Mark McDonald
New York Times, April 6, 2010

Mike Zwerin, who gave up the presidency of an American steel company to play trombone with some of the great innovators in jazz and later became a noted critic, died Friday in Paris after a long illness. He was 79.

When he was 18, nervously sitting in with Art Blakey's group at Minton's jazz club in Harlem, Zwerin was noticed by the trumpeter Miles Davis, who complimented the young player and used him briefly in his Birth of the Cool band.

Zwerin later played with the big bands of Maynard Ferguson and Claude Thornhill, and collaborated on recordings with musicians like Davis, Charles Mingus, Earl Hines and Bob Dylan.

"Jazz is the most vibrant, interesting, honest (and poverty-stricken) music of the 20th century, and so far in the 21st," he wrote recently.

Michael Zwerin was born in New York on May 18, 1930; grew up in Forest Hills, Queens; went to the High School of Music and Art; and graduated from the University of Miami. He worked for his father at the Capitol Steel Corp. and became its president when his father died in 1960.

But music was his passion and his calling, especially jazz, and later he began writing about it.

Zwerin was the jazz columnist for the Village Voice in New York from 1964 until 1969, then moved to Europe and served as the paper's European editor. He also wrote for Rolling Stone and other magazines.

He became a music critic in 1977 for the International Herald Tribune in Paris, and with his customary irreverence he often referred to the paper as the Herald Trombone. In 2005 he became a music critic for Bloomberg News.

Zwerin also wrote several books, including five about jazz, most notably "Close Enough for Jazz" and "The Parisian Jazz Chronicles: An Improvisational Memoir."

In his 1969 book, "The Silent Sound of Needles," Zwerin wrote about his struggles with drug addiction. Using drugs was "part of the ethic of what I thought was being hip, which was really stupid," he said in a Bloomberg interview. "When you're that age, you're immortal."

Zwerin also wrote about the loneliness that can come with being an expatriate, and in "The Parisian Jazz Chronicles," writing about himself in the third person, he told his wife, Martine, that she "should sprinkle his ashes over the Atlantic."

"He was an alienated American, a wandering Jew, a musician playing to empty houses on an endless foreign tour," he wrote. "He was on permanent loan to Paris, like a painting in a museum."

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