The names of many great companies have been derived from a myriad of sources. Google got its name from the number googol, a 1 followed by 100 zeros; Steve Jobs decided to name his computer company Apple following a trip to an apple orchard; the name of the online real estate company Zillow is a combination of the words “zillion” and “pillow.” Just like those companies and the countless others with names of unique origin, Mezz Entertainment too has a special inspiration behind its name: say hello to the legendary jazz musician Mezz Mezzrow. Hailing from Chicago, the esteemed musician would utilize his talents to travel the world and perform for audiences alongside some of the greatest jazz musicians to ever live throughout the 1930s to 1950s. He undoubtedly left his mark on the genre’s history during that time, and subsequently future generations of the music industry. To this day, he serves as an inspiration for us here at Mezz, along with many others.
Born in Chicago in 1899, Mezz Mezzrow quickly made a name for himself as one of the city’s prominent jazz musicians by the 1920s. He was additionally well known for being a strong proponent of racial equality, showing great respect for the African-American community and culture, while also marrying an African-American woman, Johnnie Mae Mezzrow. He would travel across the country playing either the clarinet or saxophone with the likes of Louis Armstrong, Sidney Bechet, and Bix Beiderbecke while making a name for himself in jazz before starting a band of his own. His first recordings would eventually be released in 1933 under the band name Mezz Mezzrow And His Orchestra, signifying that he had truly made it as a jazz musician. He continued to perform throughout the 1940s and ‘50s as well, eventually relocating to Paris, France after performing at the Nice Music Festival in 1948 before eventually passing away at the age of 72. While many men question whether they’ve done enough with their life in the face of death, Mezz Mezzrow could rest peacefully knowing full and well that he had done plenty.
Today, Mezz Mezzrow’s legacy is still remembered throughout the jazz community, and especially in New York City. We at Mezz aren’t the only ones drawing inspiration from the late and great Mr. Mezzrow: back in 2015, Spike Willner named his new jazz club Mezzrow after the revered clarinetist, and even had his son, 79-year-old Milton Mesirow Jr., in attendance at its opening. In an era of the music industry where superstars reign supreme like never before, it’s easy to forget about those who aren’t placed upon the highest pedestal and given the most amount of screentime; they still manage to inspire people, however. We at Mezz certainly won’t forget our history. We celebrate and thank Mezz Mezzrow for helping pave the way for many generations of musicians to come.