PASSINGS: Mike Zwerin, Mike Cuellar

Mike Zwerin

Trombonist, jazz critic

Mike Zwerin, 79, a trombonist who got his break jamming with Miles Davis and later became the Paris-based jazz critic for the International Herald Tribune, died Friday 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 stars he encountered: Dexter Gordon, Chet Baker, Bob Dylan, Wayne Shorter and Davis, who spotted Zwerin playing in a club in 1948.

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

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

Then 18, he played briefly with the trumpeter’s band at the Royal Roost in New York.

Zwerin, who was born May 18, 1930, in New York, had studied at the city’s High School of Music and Art and played violin, piano and accordion in addition to trombone and trumpet.

After graduating from the University of Miami, Zwerin went to work for his father at Capitol Steel Corp. He returned to music in the late ‘50s, playing in Paris and New York with Billy May, Sonny Dunham, Claude Thornhill and Maynard Ferguson, until his father died in 1960 and Zwerin became president of the steel company.

Later, he resumed playing bass trumpet and trombone with Orchestra USA, the Upper Bohemia Six, Bill Russo and others.

Zwerin was jazz columnist and European editor for the Village Voice from 1964 to 1971 and also wrote for Rolling Stone and Down Beat and later for Bloomberg News. He joined the International Herald Tribune in 1977.

Mike Cuellar

Pitcher won Cy Young Award

Mike Cuellar, 72, a crafty left-handed pitcher from Cuba whose darting screwball made him a World Series champion and Cy Young Award winner with the Baltimore Orioles, died of stomach cancer Friday at a hospital in Orlando, Fla., the Baltimore Sun reported.

Born Miguel Angel Cuellar in Santa Clara, Cuba, on May 8, 1937, he made his major league debut in 1959 and bounced among Cincinnati, St. Louis and Houston for almost a decade before a trade landed him in Baltimore. With the Orioles, he blossomed on one of the most imposing pitching staffs in baseball history. In 1971, he was among the team’s four 20-game winners.

Cuellar joined the Orioles for the 1969 season and that year became the first Baltimore pitcher to win the American League Cy Young Award, sharing the honor with Detroit’s Denny McLain. Cuellar went 23-11 with five shutouts, including a game in which he held Minnesota hitless until Cesar Tovar’s soft leadoff single in the ninth inning.

Cuellar helped pitch Baltimore to three straight World Series from 1969 to 1971. He finished that run by teaming with Jim Palmer, Dave McNally and Pat Dobson to become the only pitching staff other than the 1920 Chicago White Sox to have a quartet of 20-game winners.

A four-time all-star, Cuellar was 185-130 overall with a 3.14 earned-run average. He ended his career in 1977 with the Angels.

-- times staff and wire reports