[Dixielandjazz] Hines Air-shots (was Ray Nance)

Ken Mathieson ken at kenmath.free-online.co.uk
Sun Jan 20 12:14:59 PST 2013

Hi Robert et al,

Robert wrote:  "I last fished them out when Ken Mathieson mentioned his idea of Darnell Howard and Omer Simeon as on-the-air clarinet=playing influences on Charlie Parker."

That was a long time ago and it's probably easier to reconstruct my thoughts than to plough through the list archives looking for an unknown date. If I remember correctly, what had struck me about Howard and Simeon in the context of Hines' air-shots and recordings from the late 1930s was their saxophone playing rather than clarinet playing. Specifically, it was how their clarinet styles sounded almost like proto-bop when transferred to saxophone, thanks to their facility on the instrument, their highly ornamented solo lines and, especially, a fairly even eighth-note (quaver) feel which differed radically from the prevalent swing feel. That time feel came straight from their clarinet-playing, which had been shaped to a significant degree in Simeon's case by his teacher, Lorenzo Tio Jr. Years ago, I had a conversation with Harold Dejan (of the Olympia Brass Band from New Orleans) about Tio in which he had stated that Darnell Howard had also studied with Tio in Chicago at the same time as Simeon and, if this is correct, might explain some of their stylistic similarities. Incidentally, Dejan also said that Russell Procope had also studied with Tio in New York, and that would explain his New Orleans sound and style on clarinet.

Over the years I played with a lot of musicians from Kansas City and the mid-west states and, in conversations about the music they grew up with (especially the transition from swing to bop), they frequently talked about listening to the Hines band's air-shots from Chicago's Grand Terrace, which could be heard all over the mid-west. That got me thinking about the potential of an influence on the young Charlie Parker and others of his generation who would go on to develop be-bop: they could listen to the Hines band regularly and hear what was essentially the Creole style of clarinet playing being played on saxophone by two outstanding players. This in turn led me to wonder, if Charlie Parker was the father of bop, could Lorenzo Tio Jr be described as the great-grandfather of bop?


Ken Mathieson  

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