I know this librarian who once met Tom Waits. She told me one of his favorite books was Really the Blues, which then, of course, quickly became one of my favorite books, because, well, next to Bukowski, Waits is my guy. He's like a god to me. The book, meanwhile, has to be one of the most insanely colorful jazz memoirs ever. Written by Milton "Mezz" Mezzrow completely in 1940s jive jazz slang, Blues trails the clarinetist as he goes from reform school to prison and from opium dens in Harlem to playing gigs for Al Capone. It's a great read, and until last week, I'd never met anyone else who had read it.
Popping into this relatively new joint at 20th and Larimer called Code 3 (2034 Larimer Street), I ran into these younger jazz cats who play in a band called the Mezz. Turns out the group's leader and tenor sax player, Greg Warren, is a big fan of Blues -- and jazz. Stop by Code 3 and check out the quintet (which just kicked off its Wednesday-night residency) as it gets funky on Eddie Harris and John Scofield tunes and swings on standards.
Elsewhere on the jazz tip, you can now catch legend Joe Bonner, who's played with Freddie Hubbard, Max Roach and Pharoah Sanders, two nights a week. While the pianist is still doing solo sets at the Mercury Cafe Sundays at 8 p.m., he's also playing Wednesday nights at 5 p.m. at Blackberries Ice Cream & Coffee Lounge (710 East 26th Avenue) in the heart of Five Points.
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Finally, be sure to catch Hugh Ragin at the Back Room (1700 Vine Street) every Friday. One of our city's finest trumpeters, Ragin studied and performed with the Art Ensemble of Chicago's Roscoe Mitchell, as well as David Murray.