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parents, instructed on the clarinet by old Lorenzo Tio, himself, remembers . . *
"I met Jelly at the musician's union and the first thing I noticed was that big diamond in his tooth. Jelly told me he wanted to use me on a recording session. I knew he was a big-shot and one of the pioneers of jazz, so I was real excited. "You're going to compete with Benny Goodman. In fact, I believe you're better than him/—That's what Jelly always told me. (Indeed, Jelly did regard Simeon as the finest of all jazz clarinet players.)
"Those people at Victor treated Jelly like he was somebody special, which he was, being the best in the country at the time in his style, and they paid us boys a good deal over scale to work with him. . . . See, Jelly Roll was mighty particular about his music and if the musicians couldn't play real New Orleans, he'd get somebody else."
It is a very rare experience to come close to the creative process itself. The next few paragraphs bring up very close. In them Simeon and St. Cyr describe the technique by means of which Jelly produced the best-recorded performances in jazz.
"Ill tell you how he was in rehearsing a band." Simeon went on, "He was exact with us. Very jolly, very full of life all the time, but serious. We used to spend maybe three hours rehearsing four sides and in that time he*d give us the effects he wanted, like the background behind a solo—he would run that over on the piano with one finger and the guys would get together and harmonize it . . .
"The solos—they were ad lib. We played according to how we felt. Of course, Jelly had his ideas and sometimes we'd listen to them and sometimes, together with our own, we'd make something better. For me, I'd do whatever he wanted. In other words I just cooperated with him, where a lot of the fellows wouldn't. It was my first big break/'
Giving cues to a roomful of New Orleans jazzmen was just about as risky and sometimes as useless as telling so many bullfighters how to execute their faenas. But in Chicago, at