The Rarest & Greatest Tracks 1929-1954

Jazz Crusade JCCD-3101 2005 74 min 22 tracks

Smokehouse Blues, Beau Koo Jack, Easy Riders, The Chant, Congo Love Song, Novelty Blues, Tickle Britches Blues, Nagasaki, Reincarnation, Maple Leaf Rag, The Land Of Dreams, Lorenzo’s Dream, Harlem Hotcha, Bandanna Days, Creole Lullaby, Lagniappe, Qua-Ti Rhythm, Grand Boubousse, Qua-Ti Blues, Frankie & Johnny, Bill Baily

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 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 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!.