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lundi 28 novembre 2016



This volume gathers for the first time together the two parts of this world acclaimed "blues novel" about the career of Theodore Roosevelt Young who, from the Mississippi cototon fields to Beale Street in Memphis and then the Chicago ghetto will become the new King of the blues


The youth and the genesis of a great bluesman… and of one of the most famous titles in the history of blues:
Catfish blues or Rolling Stone that will give its name to the band of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards!
Mississippi, Years 1930ies. Theodore Roosevelt Young, a young Black raised by his mother, has only one role-model: his uncle Eddie, this “bad Negro” who has chosen the traveling life of a bluesman.  Against all odds, from Delta to Memphis and at the junction of Lyon, Ms., Theodore will walk in the footsteps of his uncle Eddie, following his dream and becoming Catfish the bluesman.  And this after a passionate path, painful and made of encounters vivid in color. 

Gérard HERZHAFT who knew a number of great bluesmen and Muddy Waters in particular, describes with feeling and accuracy of tone the world of Black Mississippi of the 1930ies, the world of blues.  Re-issued several times, Grand Prix High School of Ile de France, adapted into a cartoon, this novel considered as one of the “great novels on blues”, is finally available in paperback and in a new english translation.


          The young Amos, who has nothing but a vague memory of his natal Mississippi, lives in Chicago with his alcoholic father since the death of his mother, shortly after their arrival to the North.  Amos sells newspapers by shouting out, but dreams of becoming a great harmonica player like Slender Bill, the aging king of Chicago blues in the years 1947-48.  Thanks to cousin Steve who knows all sorts of traffic in the ghetto, Amos has the opportunity to penetrate into the world of the Chicago blues.  He encounters Catfish, a musician who begins to be known, and he also succeeds in softening Slender Bill and his wife who take him under their protective wing.   
          But the paths to glory are tortuous: Slender Bill who no longer has favor with anyone except with the aged female listeners, is a good professor but is he the future of Amos?  When the brothers Silverberg, who moved from one ghetto to another by emigrating from Central Europe to America, decide to launch a new and very ambitious blues label, they choose to promote Catfish who, precisely, is looking for a young harmonica player. 

"In Chicago, a harmonica sobs the blues" is partly a follow up to  "Catfish blues".  It is not just another novel on the blues.  Gérard Herzhaft describes the characters, the dialogues, the situations of the Chicago blues such as it were with the blue words that have the color, the flavor and the consistency of the blue notes.



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