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Jazz Critic Mike Zwerin, Miles Davis Protege, Dies at Age 79

Mike Zwerin, Bloomberg News jazz critic, poses with his bass trumpet at his home in Paris, Nov. 29, 2005.  Photographer: Alastair Miller/Bloomberg News
Mike Zwerin, Bloomberg News jazz critic, poses with his bass trumpet at his home in Paris, Nov. 29, 2005. Photographer: Alastair Miller/Bloomberg News

April 2 (Bloomberg) -- Mike Zwerin, a jazzman who got his first break jamming with Miles Davis a half-century ago, has died aged 79.

Zwerin was a trombonist who became the Paris-based jazz critic for the International Herald Tribune and later for Bloomberg News. He died at 3 a.m. local time in a Paris hospital after a long illness, his family said.

He was the author of the memoirs “Close Enough for Jazz” and “The Parisian Jazz Chronicles” among others. In the books, his life story is interlaced with those of the stars he encountered: Dexter Gordon, Chet Baker, Bob Dylan, Wayne Shorter -- and Davis, the man “everything comes back to.”

He was spotted by Davis playing in a club.

“When I came to rehearsal, it was the band called Birth of the Cool,” Zwerin recalled in a Bloomberg interview in 2005. Davis told him “I like your sound.”

“That was the biggest compliment I ever got,” Zwerin said.

Zwerin was jazz columnist and European editor for the Village Voice between 1964 and 1971 and also wrote for Rolling Stone, Down Beat and other magazines.

“It’s the cliche: You do get some peace with age,” Zwerin said in the 2005 interview. “Also, I understand stuff that I didn’t understand before. There is no reason to get depressed about stuff, because it’s just inevitable. That’s what I’ve come to realize: Dust unto dust is OK.”

Here is a selection of Mike Zwerin’s columns:
Jazz Giants Swing on Cool DVD Collection: Review by Mike Zwerin
Hot Jazz Club Embroiled in Rome Political Intrigue: Mike Zwerin
Miles Davis Gems Resurface -- in French Comic Book: Mike Zwerin
Dylan’s Pulitzer, Poetry, Beer Boxes, Dingy Rooms: Mike Zwerin
Phil Spector Mopes, Schemes, Lies, Drinks Manischewitz in Bio
Baron ‘Toots’ Thielemans, Master of Jazz Harmonica: Mike Zwerin

To contact the writer on the story: Mark Beech in London at mbeech@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at mhoelterhoff@bloomberg.net.

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