Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Jean Omer (1912-1994): Le Boeuf sur le Toit and the end of his career

Jean Omer: His successes in le Boeuf sur le Toit!
Georg Lankester

In the first part, entitled Jean Omer (1912-1994): The pre-war years Georg Lankester recollected the Jean Omer's early career  ... This time his successes ..... and the oblivion. His concerts at Le Boeuf sur le Toit, a Brussel jazz club, were a feast for jazz fans ...


 The Forties: In 1941Jean reformed his orchestra which was fallen aparty due to war circumstances and he performed regularly in ‘Le Boeuf’. Also the next year he was very successfully.
Listen to a fragment of Club Prive from December 1940 by Jean Omer et son Grand Orchestre de Swing du Boeuf sur le Toit.

In my pubication on Fud Candrix I mentioned that his band (on invitation) for several weeks played in the Berlin ‘Delphi Palast’and… for a full house.

But also Omer’s band was invited by the German  (promoted by the Telefunken records). And so, many evenings, two Belgian bands played in the this Berlin palace for an enthousiastic audience. Omer’s band started and after a break the Candrix orchestra appeared on stage. The presence of the authorities could create  critical remarks (like in Belgium) and therefore the band leaders avoided English or French titles or texts and had to produce mainly dance music.

 Le Boeuf sur le Toit
During the later war years it became harder to perform since most clubs, restaurants and theatres had to close down. However, this did not apply to the ‘Boeuf’ where people kept coming because of the pleasant jazz atmosphere.

 Jean Omer ( 1912-1994)

In the early forties several recordings of Jean Omer took place e.g. eight tracks were made in Berlin (1941) with the band of Meg Trevilian. With his own band he recorded both in ’42 and ’43. Below a short discography is given. In total Jean made abt. 80 band recordings.

 The Jean Omer orchestra at its heyday.

After the liberation in 1946 - 1947 Omer was active in Monte Carlo where he conducted the big ‘Sporting’ orchestra which included no less than 22 musicians and 3 lady singers. By 1948 he produced, next to his band performances, also shows in the ‘Boeuf’. Though this club for many years had right to exist and he himself played there, it ended in 1967 because the building had to be demolished.

 Het orkest Jean Omer on tour

Then Jean travelled to France and later to Spain but  eventually returned to his native country. Since his club house was removed, he founded in the centre of Brussels (in 1962) a jazz club called “La nouvelle Gaîté”. This became a success too because until 1982 many international stars from the jazz scene played and entertained the audience, like ensembles with pianist Gus Clark and groups like the “Hot Trio Jean Robert”.
Enjoy Les Succes du Boeuf by Jean Omer et son Orchestre recorded in Brussels, the  6th of October 1943.

After many years of an active life he more and more has to take it easy in view of his age. And then, on May 30 1994 Jean died, 82 years old. He certainly has played a role in the Belgian Music scene and also internationally.
Jean’s clarinet style is somewhat related to that of Jimmy Dorsey. And in his career there is a parallel with Fud Candrix who was a soloist and band leader too. Both men were popular musicians, even in Berlin.

 A meeting. Jean Omer (2end from the left) and Jean Robert (2nd from the right)

Some discographical data

  • 1941 ‘Flamingo’(orch. Meg Tevilian) – recorded in Berlin / Stardust, When you’re smiling, Dry gin, Porte de Namur, Vente d’Est, Pasage clouté, Crépuscule, Obsession and Rythme Indien, recorded in Brussels -
  • 1942 Jetzt geht’s los, Ins blaue hinein, Passge clouté, Crépuscule, Obsession, Rythme Indien, recorded in Berlin -
  • 1943 Harlem swing, Dans l’attente, Porte de Namur, Vente d’Est, Dry gin, L’oiseau bleu, Je suis triste, recorded in Brussels
These records were issued on: Telefunken, Swing Fan, Brunswick, Polydor.and Historia.
Sources: Belgian jazz sites, records/cd info, ‘de Swingperiode by Jack de Graef  and a ‘‘Keep (it) Swinging’ blog
Georg Lankester

Thanks to Michelle Verhaaff, Jean Robert's granddaughter. 

For more blogs about Jean Omer visit MY JAZZ LINKS: Jean Omer
Georg Lankester
Follow the Keep (it) Swinging blog at Facebook and Twitter (#keepitswinging) or ask its free newsletter.

The Belgian saxophone player Jean Omer scored triumphs during the 1940s of the past century in the Brussels dance halls like the famous Le Boeuf Sur Le Toit. Now, almost forgotten, George Lankester snatches this neglected reed player and bandleader from oblivion  
Keep Swinging (old) Oscar Aleman Choro Music Flexible Records Hit of the Week-Durium Friends of the Keep Swinging blog Keep Swinging Contributions


  1. He had one of the best bands of the era. Good charts, good musicianship.
    How about a cd Doctor Jazz ? Would compliment the Fud Candrix & Stan Brenders discs.

  2. It's good to hear about my dad Jean Omer two days before Father's Day. And Jean Robert was my godfather...