SmallsLIVE Newsletter & Schedule

April 21st, 2014

Happy 4/20

In honor of this special day I want to write a little bit about one of my most beloved jazz heroes,  Mr. Mezz Mezzrow.  Mezz was from Jewish descent and grew up in Chicago in the 1920's.  As a child delinquent he went to prison and heard jazz music for the first time.  This led him to be inspired to play the clarinet and soon was an ever-present on the Chicago scene of the time.  He became close to King Oliver and then to Louis Armstrong.  He was also a good friend of Bix Beiderbecke and of the entire "Austin High School" group of musicians that included Jimmy McPartland, Fred Teschemacher and Bud Freeman.  His life was spent in the speakeasies and gangster havens of Chicago at that time playing music and partying.

Mezz Mezzrow identified most strongly with African American culture and embraced it thoroughly.  He moved to Harlem, married an African American woman and became a fixture of the Harlem jazz culture of the 1930's.  He befriended Willie "The Lion" Smith (an African American man who embraced Judaism as his religion!) and his idol, Sidney Bechet.  Mezz was also a champion of the rights to use marijuana and became famous as a dealer.  In fact, for a period of time in Harlem, they referred to marijuana as "Mezz" or "The Mighty Mezz".  Eventually, Mezz was arrested and spent time on Riker's Island.  Mezz convinced the authorities that he was not a white man and so they put him in the "colored" section, as they called it,  - the prison was segregated at that time.  Eventually Mezz took over the prison band.  Mezz wrote a auto-biography titled "Really The Blues", which in my opinion is really one of the greatest jazz books you could read.  Beautifully written in the jazz argot of the twenties - it is poignant and colorful and really gets into the musicians of that time in a very personal way.  I highly recommend this book.  Here's a short excerpt.  This is after Mezz was arrested and trying to organize the prison band:

"One of the musicians was a real old man named Pops Baxter, who played solid tailgate trombone.  He'd worked in the old minstrel shows and barnstormed around the country with the circus bands and all the young (prison kids) were ridiculing his old antique style when I first arrived, but I soon cured them of that.  Here was a gem hidden away behind the walls of Riker's Island, and I promised myself that when I got out of jail I was going to use Pop on the first recording date I could arrange, maybe even to record "Gone Away Blues with Sidney Bechet and me."

I look forward to seeing you all at Smalls and wish you a blessed week!


This Week At Smalls:
(a selection of featured shows)
For our full schedule please go to
Monday - 4/21
The Jon Davis Duo
Sets at 7:30 & 9PM
Pianist Jon Davis is a true unsung hero of the jazz scene.  He is one of the most proficient and forward thinking of his generation.  Please don't miss this opportunity to hear him in duet with bassist GianLuca Renzi.
Monday - 4/21
The Ari Hoenig Trio

Sets at 10:30PM & 12 AM

Ari Hoenig is our resident drum genius each Monday at this time slot.  This week he comes in with a trio wit h pianist Shai Maestro and bassist Johannes Weidenmuller.  Be sure to stay for the afterhours jam led by bassist Spencer Murphy.
Tuesday & Wednesday - 4/22 & 4/23
The Theo Hill Quartet
Sets at 10:30 PM & 12 AM (4/22)
9:30 PM & 11 PM
Theo Hill is rapidly emerging as one of the real favorites of his generation and for good reason.  Theo has a strong sense of tradition but is a forward thinker.  He plays with a driving feel and authority.  In his excellent quartet is tenor saxophonist Dayna Hill, Joe Sanders on bass and Rodney Green on drums.  Theo will be playing both on Tuesday and Wednesday night.
Wednesday - 4/23
Craig Wuepper & "Earsight"
"Round Midnight" - one set.
Drummer Craig Wuepper has put a lot of years behind the instrument.  He is a free thinking and creative drummer with a modern flair.  With him  is the fiery alto saxophonist Mike DiRubbo.
Thursday - 4/24
The Sam Yahel Trio

Sets at 9:30 PM & 11PM
$20 Cover

Sam Yahel has had an amazing career as an organist.  His piano playing is equally special and unique.  Come out and hear why.  Sam is coming in with his excellent trio of Matt Penman and Anthony Pinciotti.
Friday 4/25
The David Stoler Trio

Sets at 7:30 PM & 9 PM
$20 for this show.
Pianist David Stoler makes a rare New York City appearance .  Dave is truly a beautiful musician and player.   A lyrical modernist!  With Peter Dominquez and Pete Van Nostrand
Saturday 4/26
The David Schnitter Quartet

Sets at 7:30 PM & 9 PM
$20 for this show.

David Schnitter was the longest standing  member of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers.  Now he is a free thinking modernist with a huge spirit and true jazz force.  Don't miss the opportunity to hear this master.
Friday & Saturday - 4/25 & 4/26
Wayne Escoffery Quartet

Sets at 10:30 PM & 12AM
$20 for this show.

Wayne Escoffrey is Tom Harrell 's right hand man.  This fiery modernist is coming in with a hard hitting rhythm section that features David Kikoski on piano, Ugonna Okegwo on bass and the near-legendary drummer Ralph Peterson.
Sunday - 4/27
Vocalist Lezlie Harrison
Sets at 7:30 PM & 9 PM

Vocalist Lezlie Harrison has a deep and sultry voice and a profound jazz feeling.  She's coming in with the brilliant guitarist Saul Rubin. 

Mon, "Afterhours" -
Spencer Murphy Jam

Tues, 7:30 PM to 10 PM -
Spike Wilner Trio

Tues, "Afterhours" -
Kyle Poole "Next Generation" Jam

Wed, 6:00PM to 9:00 PM -
Michela Lerman Tap Jam
Thur, 6:00PM to 9:00PM

The "Early Bird" with:

Fri, 4PM to 7PM -
OPEN Afternoon Jam

Sat, 4PM to 7PM -
OPEN Afternoon Jam 

Sun, 1PM to 3:000 PM
Marion Cowings Vocal Masterclass ($40 to participate)

Sun, 10PM to 11:30 PM  - 
The Legendary Johnny O'Neal


Photo of a week: Klemens Marklt on drums at Smalls 

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Dezron Douglas

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