Considered one of the three top New Orleans clarinetists of the 1920s (with Johnny Dodds and Sidney Bechet), Jimmie Noone had a smoother tone than his contemporaries that appealed to players of the swing era (including Benny Goodman).
He played guitar as a child, and at age 15 took clarinet lessons from Lorenzo Tio, Jr. and Sidney Bechet (the latter was only 13, shockingly enough). Noone developed quickly, and he played with Freddie Keppard (1913-1914), Buddy Petit, and the Young Olympia Band (1916), which he also led. In 1917, he went to Chicago to join Keppard's Creole band. After it broke up the following year he became a member of King Oliver's band, staying until he joined Doc Cook's Dreamland Orchestra (1920-1926). Although Noone recorded with Cook, it was when he started leading a band at the Apex Club that he hit his stride. By 1928, he had pianist Earl Hines and altoist Joe Poston in the unusual quintet (Poston stuck to playing melodies behind Noone), and was recording for Vocalion, creating classic music including an early version of "Sweet Lorraine" (his theme song) and "Four or Five Times." Noone worked steadily in Chicago throughout the 1930s (although he received less attention from the jazz world), and he used Charlie Shavers on some of his late-'30s recordings and welcomed the young singer Joe Williams to the bandstand; unfortunately, they never recorded together. In 1944, Noone was in Kid Ory's band on the West Coast and seemed on the brink of greater fame when he unexpectedly died. Thanks to European reissue series, Jimmie Noone's recordings are readily available on CD. His son, Jimmie Noone, Jr., suddenly emerged out of obscurity in the 1980s to play clarinet and tenor with the Cheathams. ~ Scott Yanow, Rovi