Simeon, Omer (Victor)
Simeon, Omer (Victor)
Simeon, Omer (Victor), early jazz clarinetist, alto and baritone saxophonist; b. New Orleans, La., July 21, 1902; d. N.Y., Sept. 17, 1959. His family moved to Chicago in 1914. He began playing clarinet in Chicago, taking lessons from Lorenzo Tio Jr. from 1918–20. In 1920 Simeon got his first professional work in a band led by his violinist brother: Al Simeon’s Hot Six. He worked briefly with Jimmy Bell’s Band, then played with Charlie Elgar’s Creole Band (1923-spring 1927). He took part in several pick-up recording sessions with Jelly Roll Morton (1926), including “Black Bottom Stomp.” In spring 1927, he joined King Oliver’s Dixie Syncopators for a brief tour of St. Louis and a residency at the Savoy, N.Y. He left King Oliver in Baltimore during the summer of 1927 to rejoin Charlie Elgar at the Eagle Ballroom, Milwaukee. He returned to N.Y. in the summer of 1928, played with Luis Russell at the Nest Club, then worked for a week with Jelly Roll Morton at the Rose Danceland before returning to Chicago. He performed with Erskine Tate at Metropolitan Theatre (October 1928–30). He gigged around Chicago, then played three months with pianist Jerome Carrington’s Orch. at the Regal Theatre (early 1931) before joining Earl Hines. He remained with Earl Hines for ten years, except for a short spell with Horace Henderson (March-August 1938) and briefly with Walter Fuller (1940); he also covered for Buster Bailey with Fletcher Henderson (1936). Simeon worked in Coleman Hawkins’s Band from May 1941, then played with Walter Fuller’s Orch. (late 1941-summer 1942). He joined Jimmie Lunceford in summer 1942 and remained with the band after the leader’s death (1947), working under Eddie Wilcox’s leadership until 1950. While with Lunceford, he made small band recordings with Kid Ory (1944–45). He worked regularly with Wilbur de Paris Band from fall 1951 until shortly before dying of throat cancer. Later in life, Simeon signed his name as Omer, however, several early reports give the name as Omar. There is also a report that Simeon Sr. worked as a cigar maker, using the name Omer Simeon.
—John Chilton , Who’s Who of Jazz/Lewis Porter