The Jazz Crusade Audio Sampler Catalog
JCCD-3101: Rare Cuts Well Done - Volume 7: Omer Simeon
Track 1: Omer Simeon [cl] Earl Hines [pn] Hayes Alvis [sbs] Wallace Bishop [dm] (21 Aug 29)
Track 2: Omer Simeon [cl] Earl Hines [pn] Claude Roberts [bj] (11 Sep 29)
Tracks 3-6: Omer Simeon [cl/as] Shirley Clay, George Mitchell [cn] Cecil Irwin [cl/ts] William Barbee [pn] Hayes Alvis [sbs] Wallace Bishop [dm] (23 Sep 29)
Track 7: Omer Simeon, Artie Starks [cl/as] Jimmy McLeary [tp] Roy Palmer [tb] Richard M. Jones [pn] Quinn Wilson [bb] (8 Feb 29)
Track 8: Omer Simeon, Artie Starks [cl/as] Richard M. Jones [pn] Clarence Black [vn](8 Feb 29)
Tracks 9-12: Omer Simeon [cl] Paul Mares [tp] Santo Pecora [tb] Boyce Brown [as] Jesse Stacy [pn] Marvin Saxbe [gu] Pat Pattison [sbs] George Wettling [dm] (26 Jan 35)
Tracks 13-18: Omer Simeon [cl] Sammy Price [pn] Zutty Singleton [dm] (54)

Songs: 1. Smokehouse Blues 2. Beau Koo Jack 3. Story Book Ball 4. Easy Riders 5. The Chant 6. Congo Love Song 7. Novelty Blues 8. Tickle Britches Blues 9. Nagasaki 10. Reincarnation 11. Maple Leaf Rag 12. The Land of Dreams 13. Lagniappe 14. Qua-ti Rhythm 15. Grand Boubousse 16. Qua-ti Blues 17. Frankie & Johnny

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Reviews for:
JCCD-3101: Rare Cuts Well Done - Volume 7: Omer Simeon

Jazz Review. com - Internet Jazz Publication

In Volume 7 of a continuing series, Rare Cuts – Well Done, Jazz Crusade offers a glimpse of the career of Omer Simeon. Omer Simeon (1902-1959) is one of those New Orleans names that people speak in respectful tones. Simeon was always an underrated clarinetist. Perhaps it was because he often found himself stifled by the constrictions of the large orchestras he played with including Lunceford, Earl Hines, Fletcher Henderson and Coleman Hawkins. His importance was, in part, certified by Jelly Roll Morton who called Simeon his favorite clarinetist. Jelly was not one to throw out compliments freely. Anyone who has heard the Morton trio recording of Shreveport Stomp will admit that Omer Simeon stole the show and overshadowed the leader.
An early student of Lorenzo Tio Jr., Simeon later fell under the spell of Johnny Dodds and Jimmy Noone. Born in New Orleans, the young clarinetist moved to Chicago with his family at the age of twelve. It was there that he developed and was employed by Charlie Elgar’s Creole Orchestra then made his first recordings with Jelly Roll in 1927 and 1928. The Jazz Crusade CD takes over at this point in Simeon’s career.
The late summer of 1929 found Omer Simeon in the Brunswick studio with Earl Hines, bassist Hayes Alvis and drummer Wallace Bishop. The quartet turned out Smokehouse Blues returning the following month for a trio recording of Beau Koo Jack. In the early days of jazz discography, the pianist on the sessions was thought to be William Barbee or Earl Fraser. A later session in 1929 finds Simeon in septet format with two cornets and another reedman, Cecil Irwin. Omer doubles on alto sax and clarinet to turn out Story Book Ball, Easy Riders, The Chant and Tiny Parham’s Congo Love Song. The latter piece features some nice cornet work by Shirley Clay and George Mitchell.
Tracks seven and eight offer Novelty Blues and Tickle Britches Blues featuring the clarinetist with Richard M.Jones’ Jazz Wizards. The 9th track finds Simeon in full flight with a burning solo on Nagasaki in the Paul Mares Friars Society orchestra. It’s a piping hot band with great solo activity by trumpeter Mares, clarinetist Simeon, alto man Boyce Brown and the energetic Jess Stacy on piano. This band performs four great pieces and it’s a nice opportunity to hear trombonist Roy Palmer show his stuff on The Land Of Dreams.
In 1945 Omer Simeon, James P.Johnson and George “Pops” Foster put a recording unit together for the Disc label. They called the group “The Carnival Three.” All four sides produced in the studio are included on this new CD. This is possibly the first time Lorenzo’s Dream, Harlem Hotcha, Creole Lullaby and Bandana Days have appeared on compact disc. Creole Lullaby is a particular gem.
Finally, all hell breaks loose! A final trio session places Simeon in the studio with New Orleans born drummer Zutty Singleton and blues piano specialist Sammy Price. Six classic 1954 performances resulted from the happy association of these great musicians. Sammy Price is, as always, a master of lowdown blues, Simeon tempts and tickles with his delicate notes. Jazz Crusade kingpin, Big Bill Bissonnette calls Singleton one of the most musical of drummers. “He’s one of few drummers you can sing along with!” It’s true. Just listen to his solo on Bill Bailey. The final trio sides are alone worth the price of this CD.
The balance of Omer Simeon’s colorful career was spent with the remarkable Wilbur De Paris band until his retirement in 1957 and subsequent death in 1959.
- Richard Bourcier

Boxell’s Jazz Website - Internet Publication

In his sleeve notes Big Bill Bissonnette lists his 5 greatest New Orleans clarinettists of all time and puts Omer Simeon at number 2; above George Lewis and below Johnny Dodds. Whilst some may argue over the position BBB has placed these three gentlemen, I doubt anyone would disagree that they are the 3 greatest clarinettists to come out of the Crescent City.
The list of bands that Omer played with from the 20s to the 50s is impressive and I must admit that, till now, it was a as a band member of Jelly Roll Morton’s, Wilbur de Paris’ band or in a big band alongside Earl Hines that I have heard Omer play. It was a but a taste of his talent that I got, but on this album I got the opportunity to listen to him as a featured player and I moved him from my top 5 New Orleans clarinettists to the top 3 and in fact agree with BBB’s placing of number 2.
The recordings cover 8 1929 recordings (the first tracks), 4 from 1935, 4 from 1945 and the balance from 1954. Whilst the 1929 recordings are good quality they have just a slight flatness of sound typical of that period, but the music is both sharp and hot. The later recordings are of excellent quality.
The other musicians playing with Omer read like a who’s who of classic American jazz, and I will just throw in Earl Hines, Pops Foster and Zutty Singleton to give you a feel. Of the tracks I think my favourites are the 1954 ones, which I think shew the man at his best. But all the tracks on this album, and what lost treasures some of them are, are excellent. This is now a treasured CD in my collection and should be one your collection too!.
- Geoff Boxell

Just Jazz—British Traditional Jazz Magazine

When one gets a slagging-off in print, it MU certainly puts you on your toes and makes you more vigilant about facts, details, opinions etc. So, just recently, when Big Bill Bissonnette took me to task over his Jazz Crusade CD output, he mentioned that he was to release a CD featuring Omer Simeon, one of my favourite clarinettists, but not because of Omer, but because it would also feature the drumming of Zutty Singleton, another of my No. 1s. I professed that I would look out for this release, but low and behold, good old Big Bill has come up with trumps and posted a copy to me, with a request that I say a few words about it.
As it turns out, this release is more comprehensive than I imagined it would be. It features some wonderful clarinet playing in a trio format with Zutty and Sammy Price, and Zutty is very well recorded, enabling the listener to hear all the timbre of his drum kit. The CD also includes some even rarer trio tracks with James P. Johnson and Pops Foster.
However, the first part of the CD, in fact the first eight tracks, feature Omer in different settings, all recorded in 1929, shortly after leaving Jelly Roll Morion's Red Hot Peppers. Four classic recordings of Smokehouse Blues, Beau Koo Jack, The Chant, and Congo Love Song are among the eight, and are great to listen to.
To top that we have the very hard-to-get-hold-of recordings of the re-incarnation of the New Orleans Rhythm Kings, recorded in 1935, which also features Paul Mares, Santo Pecora, and Jess Stacey -excellent stuff.
I appreciate that Big Bill does a tireless job recording and presenting on his Jazz Crusade label bands of today playing in the New Orleans idiom, but his releases of Punch Miller, Edmond Hall, Wilbur De Paris, Wilton Crawley and other jazz legends, are absolutely first class and far more beneficial to the avid collector than some others. This release featuring Omer Simeon likewise fits the bill, and with that wonderful pulse of Zutty Singleton sitting behind the drums, it is the icing on the cake.
Many thanks for passing this CD on to me for review - excellent job, well done -1 really do hope that the CD buying public go out and get their copies.
- Peter Lay

King’s Jazz Review—British Internet Jazz Magazine

In his liner notes, Big Bill includes Omer Simeon among "... the 5 greatest New Orleans clarinettists of all time", and it will possibly be so that ALL who acquire this CD will NOT, not agree with his statement, meaning that I among them, wholeheartedly agree with the Bissonnette sentiment, even as I’d not as he had, had an esteemed pleasure and opportunity as a young lad of having listened to this very fine clarinettist’s playing in Jimmy Ryan’s Club in NYC.
Omer was born in New Orleans in July 1902, and died in New York, September 1959. When his family moved to Chicago at the beginning of WW I, he took lesson’s from Lorenzo Tio jr during the 1918-20 period, perhaps not entirely in Chicago as Tio was said to have lived there in 1917 for one year only, and he, Simeon, recorded with Jelly Roll six years later - 1927, joining King Oliver the following year.
Smoke House the first number on this "Rare Cuts" album was perhaps the first recording by Omer cut under his own leadership, surprisingly, the professionalism in his playing shows that it was not marked to a great difference from the beginning of this 25 years time span, however, one can detect the slight nuances of progression in his playing from beginning to end of this album’s recordings over that quarter of a century.
This album with the famous jazz artists of whom I’ll not attempt noting their details such as pianist Earl Hines, cornetist George Mitchell, trombonist Roy Palmer, pianists Jesse Stacy, James P. Johnson and Sammy Price, string bassist Pops Foster, drummer Zutty Singleton and more, makes this CD an unique treasure to own.
Out of the 22 tracks, I’m familiar with only a small number of them, of which in Reincarnation I detect a strong ‘ Stormy Weather’ quote by trumpeter Paul Mares. Nagasaki and Maple Leaf Rag became popular numbers with nearly all of the British "Trad" Bands, thus lending themselves forerunners leading up to the growth of New Orleans, Dixieland and Traditional jazz in the UK.
Did banjoist Claude Roberts record in more than the one tune, Beau Koo Jack - for example, The Chant - or perhaps banjoist Johnny St. Cyr was there alongside cornetist George Mitchell on this number? Of the six pianists, even when one has a favourite among them, I feel certain that many will have chosen differently after listening to, and picking one out, judged on their performances on this album. The Qua-ti Rhythm is the longest tune at 4.12 minutes. The Omer Simeon clarinet can be heard at its finest on Grand Boubousse, but the choice is yours as to whether or not Lorenzo’s Dream will warrant this claim.
For notable low register skills, seek out Bandanna Days and, with the collection ending on Frankie & Johnny and Bill Bailey, doubtless inspired by his illustrious jazz artist accompanists these Simeon renditions can, I’m sure, some 50 years hence today, gel well with the modern day jazz music listeners - phenomenal.
- Ian King

All Music Guide—Internet Music Publication

Omer Simeon was one of the greatest clarinetists to emerge during the 1920s. His career can easily be divided into periods including a stint as Jelly Roll Morton's favorite clarinetist, playing with Earl Hines 1930s swing band, and in the 1950s as one of the stars of the Wilbur DeParis "New New Orleans Jazz Band." A fluent player who always displayed a strong sense of humor at times, Simeon was flexible and technically skilled.
While Big Bill Bissonnette's Jazz Crusade label ( usually concentrates on recent recordings of New Orleans jazz-style groups, it also puts out occasional historic releases including the seven discs (thus far) in the Rare Cuts - Well Done series. Vol. 7 is the best and even Bissonnette in his liner notes underrates some of the contents.
Simeon is heard on the two numbers from 1929 that he led with a small group that includes Earl Hines, four selections with the Dixie Rhythm Kings (also from 1929), two cuts with pianist Richard M. Jones' group that teams him with fellow clarinetist Artie Starks, and the 1935 session from former New Orleans Rhythm Kings cornetist Paul Mares. The latter date, which has been long elusive (it has Mares' only post-1925 recordings), is not even mentioned in the liner notes but is full of exciting performances. Simeon also excels on four numbers from a 1945 trio date with pianist James P. Johnson and bassist Pops Foster and six songs with pianist Sammy Price and drummer Zutty Singleton.Ranging from classic jazz to dixieland, from swing to even a bit of ragtime ("Maple Leaf Rag") and blues, this CD is definitely "Well Done" and a must for 1920s jazz collectors.
- Scott Yanow

Jazz Journal International—British Jazz magazine

This is a mixed issue but, whatever the guise, Simeon is superb throughout. He shines most especially as the only horn in the company of piano masters such as Hines, Johnson and Price, although they do come close to matching his superb solo skills on the likes of Beau Koo, Bandanna Days and Lagniappe. The New Orleans Rhythm Kings type unit is the pick of the full sized combos, with Simeon's Noone-like horn being well complimented by Mares's assertive lead and by 'in character' solos from Brown and Stacey.
On the debit side, the sound quality on some of the earlier titles does leave something to be desired and The Chant hardly matches the Jelly classic. In the personnel listings Hayes is shown as a string bass player but plays mainly tuba while, on the musical side, neither of the cornets on the track lives up to their reputation. To balance the fact, the Hines-like Barbee compensates with some stunning piano and the over-all playing time is generous. One supposes that this release will fill gaps in the completist collector's shelves and it is certainly a reminder of Simeon's position in the outstanding New Orleans clarinet hierarchy.
- Barry McRae

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