[JPL] Mike Zwerin, r.i.p.
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Mon Apr 5 14:39:36 EDT 2010
April 6, 2010
Mike Zwerin, Trombone Player Who Sat With Many Jazz Greats, Is Dead at 79
By MARK McDONALD
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 Blakey¹s group at Minton¹s
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
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.
³Jazz is the most vibrant, interesting, honest (and poverty-stricken) music
of the 20th century, and so far in the 21st,² 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 paper¹s 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
³Close Enough for Jazz² and ³The Parisian Jazz Chronicles: An
In his 1969 book, ³The Silent Sound of Needles,² Zwerin wrote about his
struggles with drug addiction. Using drugs was ³part of the ethic of what I
thought was being hip, which was really stupid,² he said in a Bloomberg
interview. ³When you¹re that age, you¹re immortal.²
Zwerin also wrote about the loneliness that can come with being an
expatriate, and in ³The Parisian Jazz Chronicles,² writing about himself in
the third person, he told his wife, Martine, that she ³should sprinkle his
ashes over the Atlantic.²
³He was an alienated American, a wandering Jew, a musician playing to empty
houses on an endless foreign tour,² he wrote. ³He was on permanent loan to
Paris, like a painting in a museum.²
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