Favorite Soprano Saxists Of The Twenties Not Named “Sidney”

Thanks to Ralph A. Miriello for inspiring me to write my own list!

Harold Peterson tossing off some Larry Shields-inspired descant over The Southern Rag-A-Jazz Band:

Gene Fosdick chirping an introductory verse for his Hoosiers:

My hero Buster Bailey, with the unenviable job of subbing for Sidney Bechet alongside Louis Armstrong, on a Clarence Williams Blue Five date and getting a whole paraphrase chorus to himself:

Sidney Bechet’s pupil and Duke Ellington star Johnny Hodges, spare and declaratory with a Perry Bradford group:

Someone’s crisp, bouncy soprano peeking out from the ubiquitous Ben Selvin orchestra:

Baltimore-born and New York-based Percy Glascoe switching between clarinet and soprano, while playing both in a similarly agitated style, with Lem Fowler’s Jim-Dandies:

If you like this sort of thing, I wrote a little more about this group here and here. Moving right along…

Stump Evans and then the redoubtable Omer Simeon, respectively wailing and bluesy with King Oliver’s Dixie Syncopators:

Boyd Atkins with Louis Armstrong and His Stompers:

Incidentally, Atkin’s soprano solo (as well as Joe Walker’s solo on baritone) always sounded just great alongside Armstrong and Earl Hines to me. Yet John Chilton’s description of it as merely “effective” left me slightly embarrassed by my own ears. So I finally felt vindicated by Mr. Miriello including Atkins between Sidney Bechet and Johnny Hodges on his list! There’s also…

Harlan Leonard putting down his lead alto with Bennie Moten’s band for some soprano boogie:

then some soprano hoedown:

The little-known but very talented Goof Moyer on his own record date and with just a rhythm section behind him, burning up Fletcher Henderson’s “The Stampede”:

I hope you enjoyed the music.

Addendum: Percussionist and eagle-eye/ear Hal Smith spotted that the above clip erroneously labeled a picture of Albert Nicholas as Omer Simeon. Here is a photograph of Mr. Simeon care of Michael Steinman’s outstanding blog:simeon-1958-per-ebay-via-jazzlives

Thanks, Hal and Michael!

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5 thoughts on “Favorite Soprano Saxists Of The Twenties Not Named “Sidney”

  1. jazzlives says:

    I’m just starting to listen, but I am certain I will. Enjoy, that is.

  2. Hal Smith says:

    That’s Albert Nicholas in the photo marked “Omer Simeon.” Here’s a photo of Omer.

    On Mon, Feb 20, 2017 at 8:37 AM, The Pop of Yestercentury wrote:

    > AJS posted: “Thanks to Ralph A. Miriello for inspiring me to write my own > list! Harold Peterson tossing off some Larry Shields-inspired descant over > The Southern Rag-A-Jazz Band: Gene Fosdick chirping an introductory verse > for his Hoosiers: Sidney Bechet'” >

  3. tronepone says:

    This is fun stuff! May I add the inexplicably overlooked Ernest Elliott? His playing on the only record of Elvira Johnson for Gennett in 1926, the 1924 OKeh 8200 of Tyus & Tyus, and likely others misattributed to his clarinet are very impressive. He seems fully aware of Bechet, yet not an imitator.

    • AJS says:

      Ernest Elliott! I love his clarinet with King Oliver! Thanks for the suggestion, which I believe can be found right here:

      A whole chorus with ensemble backing? Clarence Williams must have liked his playing too…

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