Storyville 2002-2003 0063
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Keppard lived at 3534 Calumet, placing all three within walking distance of one another in Chicagoâs hottest jazz neighbourhood.
Noone recorded nine more issued tunes with Cooke for the Columbia label in 1926 and
1927, continuing to record with Cooke even after opening with his own band at the Chicago South Side Apex Club.
Noone began leading a four-piece (later five, then six-piece) group at The Apex Club (formerly The Nest, before that The Club Alvadore or Alvadear) at 35th Street and Prairie Avenue, a job he held until the Apex was closed for liquor code violations in the spring of 1929. The second-floor Apex was above the Plantation Cafe, where King Oliver and his Dixie Syncopators blared forth from 1925 to 1927.
The black community newspaper, The Chicago Defender, which chronicled black musicians and bands, was right across the street from the Apex and Plantation on Prairie Avenue. The intersection of 35th and Calumet a short block east of the Apex, where the famed Sunset Cafe was located, was such a hot jazz corner that Eddie Condon once said of it: "You could hold an instrument in the middle of the street and the air would play it.â (Note: Today the instrument could be torn from you by street gang thugs and you might be beaten, stabbed, shot, or killed, perhaps all four!)
Heavyweight boxing champion Joe Louisâs manager and backer Julian Black owned the Apex. It catered to a wealthy white crowd, which frequently included the likes of Benny Goodman, Bix Beiderbecke, Mezz Mezzrow, Jimmy Dorsey, Bud Freeman, Red McKenzie, Frank Teschmacher and numerous other white jazz players and wannabes. It was McKenzie who got Nooneâs Apex Club band into the recording studio in 1928. Tesch specialist Trevor Tolley in a 1984 article in Coda magazine declared Tesch "showed the influence of both Dodds and Noone.â
During this period Noone and Goodman both took clarinet lessons from Franz Schoepp, a "symphonicâ, classically trained, clarinetist. Goodman and Noone met during some of Schoeppâs instruction with Noone; as Schoepp and Noone played classical duets, Schoepp encouraged Goodman to learn Nooneâs technique and intonation, according to reedman Franz Jackson in an interview in Dempsey Travisâ 1983 Autobiography of Black Jazz.
Jimmie Nooneâs Apex Club Orchestra cut the first of 63 sides issued on the Vocalion label under this band name through January 1931 at the Brunswick-Balke Collender Company's Chicago studios, likely in the 700-block on S. Wabash. Pianist Dick Voynow, who was a Wolverine with Bix in 1923, was the Brunswick musical director in 1928, according to the late George Snurpus, who recorded with Wingy Manone that year in the same studio that hosted Noone recording groups.
With the Depression deepening, Chicagoâs clubs under fierce attack by federal liquor control officers, and work increasingly short-term and difficult to obtain, Noone went to
JIMMIE NOONE 1895-1944
New York City for a one-month stay at the Savoy Ballroom in Harlem. Hugues Panassie in his Guide to Jazz reports that sometime in 1931 Cab Calloway invited Noone to play in his Cotton Club band, but Noone declined.
Manuel Crusto, clarinetist and saxophonist, told Richard B. Allen, then curator of the Archive of New Orleans Jazz, in a 1971 interview that Crusto, whose style, Allen thought, was similar to Nooneâs, joined a Jimmie Noone band for a two-week period on the road, meeting it, as he recalled in 1936 in Chattanooga, Tennessee, for a salary of $18 a week. Nooneâs group also played in New Orleans and possibly in the Virginias on tour.
Pop Lewisâs Platinum Lounge, where Noone led the band, was in the basement of the classy black-owned-and-operated Vincennes Hotel at 36th Street and Vincennes Avenue on Chicagoâs near-West side. (Franz Jackson recalled working with Noone there in 1934, but most biographers place no Noone group there until 1937.)
Led 12-piece band at Chicagoâs Swingland at 51st Street and Michigan Avenue. The bandâs duties including backing other entertainers on the bill. That included a corpulent Gladys Bentley, whose bawdy repertoire included such offerings as Gladys Isn't Gratis Anymore, according to a July 1938 report in Tempo by Emelee Muller. Describing Gladysâs tap dancing Muller said, "What she can do with one foot, while supporting her tonnage on a cane, is miraculous!â
Noone, just four days before his 47th, 48th, or 49th birthday, suffered a heart attack and died at his Los Angeles home at 2711 Cimarron. According to one source, Noone had planned to meet and talk that day with the people working with Welles on his radio show. Noone reportedly felt that the band on the show (basically Ory band regulars) was without direction and could be improved musically
My own speculation is that the Welles musical situation upset the usually taciturn Noone. If so, this could have contributed to his heart attack. That would be an ironic final note. Baby Dodds in his 1959 biography says this about Noone (with whom he played in New Orleans and again in 1941 in Chicago): âPretty easy-going fellow. And when he hired a person he â¦ig'jred he was capable and he would let him use his own judgment in playing. That gave you a chance to relax and play with Jimmie.... I never saw Jimmie Noone angry once in my life, not once.â
The death certificate, reproduced overleaf, states the cause of Nooneâs death as "chronic myocarditis due to coronary artery sclerosis.â Translation: Inflammation of the muscular tissue of the heart from hardening of the coronary artery, major carrier of blood leaving the heart.
(Note: Jimmieâ is used most often in spelling Nooneâs first name, but some later issued Vocalion discs used âJimmyâ, as did subsequent Deccas and Parlophones. Hugues Panassie, an early and generally respected chronicler of all matters related to black jazz and its performers, used âJimmieâ. New Orleans biographer Charters also used âJimmieâ. The death certificate states âJames Nooneâ.)
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