Noone, Jimmie

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Noone, Jimmie

Noone, Jimmie, New Orleans clarinetist, soprano and alto saxophonist, leader; b. Cut Off, La., Aprii 23, 1895; d. L.A., Aprii 19, 1944. Benny Goodman considered Noone to be one of the finest technicians among New Orleans stylists. He also influenced Buster Bailey, Barney Bigard, Joe Marsala, Omer Simeon, saxophonist Bud Freeman and even Eric Dolphy. Born on family farm ten miles from New Orleans, Noone started playing guitar from age of 10 and clarinet from 15. His family moved into New Orleans in late 1910, and he began taking lessons from Sidney Bechet. His first paid work was subbing for Bechet in Freddie Keppard’s Band (1913), and he subsequently worked with Keppard for a year afterwards. Together with Buddie Petit, he formed the Young Olympia Band, and gigged with Kid Ory and Papa Celestin. In late 1917, he moved to Chicago to join Keppard in the Original Creole Band, and toured until the group disbanded in spring 1918. After gigging in New Orleans, he returned to Chicago in autumn 1918 (with King Oliver) and joined the band at the Royal Gardens then led by bassist Bill Johnson. From the summer of 1920 until autumn 1926, and later again in 1927, he performed with Doc Cooke’s Orch., as well as leading his own small groups. He then led resident band at the Apex Club, which included Earl Hines for a while, until it closed in spring of 1928. From then through the 1930s, except for engagements in N.Y. in 1931 and 1935, he remained in Chicago leading small groups at various clubs. At some point he studied with Franz Schoepp, a classically trained clarinetist. In the early 1940s, he played in Omaha, Neb., and San Antonio, Tex. He moved to Calif., where he led a group in Hollywood from August 1943. He did radio and record dates with Kid Ory, Zutty Singleton, Jack Teagarden, and others in San Francisco and L.A. Shortly before his death, he joined an all-star revival band organized for Orson Welles’s CBS variety show. He died in his home from a sudden heart attack. Noone appeared with the East Side Kids in the 1944 film The Block Busters.

His son, Jimmie Noone Jr. (b. James Fleming N., Chicago, April 21, 1938; d. San Diego, March 29, 1991), is also a clarinetist. After spending much of his career in obscurity in San Diego, in the 1980s he commenced an active recording and international touring schedule, which he pursued until his death in 1991.


“I Know That You Know” (1928); Four or Five Times (1928); Apex Blues (1928); The Blues Jumped a Rabbit (1936); Oh Sister, Ain’t That Hot (1928). O. Powers: Play That Thing (1923). K. Oliver: Chattanooga Stomp/New Orleans Stomp (1923); Camp Meeting Blues (1923). Capitol Jazzmen: Clambake in B Flat (1943).

— John Chilton, (Who’s Who ofJazz)/Lewis Porter