Sissle, Noble (Lee)

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Sissle, Noble (Lee)

Sissle, Noble (Lee) , early pop/jazz singer, composer, leader; b. Indianapolis, Ind., July 10, 1889; d. Tampa, Fia., Dec. 17, 1975. In 1914, he formed his first band for residency at the Severin Hotel, Indianapolis. He moved to Baltimore in 1915, and worked in Bob Young’s Band (with Eubie Blake-Luckey Roberts; occasionally on second piano). Later that year, Sissle led his own band in Coconut Grove, Palm Beach, Fla. He joined Jim Europe’s Society Orch. as guitarist-vocalist, then (with Europe) joined the U.S. Army in December 1916. He served as a lieutenant in the famous 369th Division Band, acting as drum major. He returned to the U.S. and continued to tour with Europe until Europe’s death in 1919. Sissle then formed a highly successful duo with Eubie Blake; these two worked as partners for many years, producing and composing for a variety of shows, including Shuffle Along, Chocolate Dandies, and many others. Many of their songs became standards; “I’m Just Wild About Harry” was revived as a campaign song in 1948 for Harry Truman. In 1926 they played a residency in London at the Kit Kat Club, and then returned to the U.S. that August. During this period, they also recorded and toured in the U.S., and appeared in several short Vitaphone films. Sissle returned to London without Blake in 1928, did a solo act accompanied by pianist Harry Revel, then formed his own band for residency at Les Ambassadeurs in Paris (summer 1928). Through the mid-1930s, he alternated between leading bands in Europe and the U.S. (except for a spell of inactivity following injuries sustained in a car crash during summer 1936). Beginning in 1938, he led the band at Billy Rose’s Diamond Horseshoe in N.Y. Sissle continued this residency for over 12 years, but did touring for U.S.O, shows during World War II (including a trip to Europe). During the 1960s he continued to manage his own publishing company. He also continued to lead his own bands and to run his own night-club, Noble’s. In 1969, he reunited with Blake to make recordings. He lived in Fla. from the 1970s on; in his later years, he suffered from Alzheimer’s disease. Over the years, Noble Sissle employed many famous jazz soloists, including Sidney Bechet, Buster Bailey, Harvey Boone, Johhny Dunn, and Tommy Ladnier.


Noble Sissle and His Sizzling Syncopaters (1931).


R. Kimball and W. Bolcom, Reminiscing with Sissle and Blake (N.Y., 1973).

—John Chilton , Who’s Who of Jazz/Lewis Porter