Jonah Jones

Story 1936-1945

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Long before his name was introduced to mainstream audiences through a series of Capitol LPs decorated with pictures of buxom, full-bottomed females, Jonah Jones made a name for himself as a versatile swing trumpeter whose best work put him in league with Herman Autrey, Bill Coleman, Roy Eldridge, Charlie Shavers, Emmett Berry, and Buck Clayton. Story, EPM's Jazz Archives salute, takes on a nine-year stretch from 1936 to 1945, during which he collaborated with an impressive range of big bands, small groups, and blues singers. As a member of violinist Stuff Smith's Onyx Club Boys, Jones delivered some of his most expressive playing on "Old Joe's Hittin' the Jug," a frantically paced celebration of excess and sloth that is the logical counterpart to "You'se a Viper." Jones is heard with bands under the leadership of pianists Teddy Wilson and Lil Armstrong; hyperkinetic multi-instrumentalist Lionel Hampton; trumpeter/saxophonist Benny Carter, and the extroverted vocalist Cab Calloway, who reluctantly maintained silence during several instrumentals, including the feature spotlight number "Jonah Joins the Cab." If Calloway's handling of "Hey Doc!" is entertaining, the best version in the world is still probably the famous, perfectly executed rendition by the Ink Spots. Jones was very adept at stepping back and providing thoughtful accompaniments for vocalists, and the examples provided in this package (a warm reading of Richard M. Jones' "Jazzin' Babies Blues" by Georgia White and a completely disarming "Suicide Blues" sung by Peetie Wheatstraw) demonstrate the trumpeter's obligato technique beautifully. "Lust for Licks," based on the chord progressions of "Exactly Like You," was recorded in September 1944 for Harry Lim's Keynote label with arranger Buster Harding at the piano and four of Jones' bandmates from the Calloway band who also participated in a Commodore session about nine months later. On "Rose of the Rio Grande," "Hubba Hubba Hop," and "Stompin' at the Savoy," the Jonah Jones Orchestra consisted of trombonist/vibraphonist Tyree Glenn, clarinetist Buster Bailey, saxophonists Hilton Jefferson, and Ike Quebec, bassist Milt Hinton, guitarist Danny Barker, and drummer J.C. Heard. Quebec in turn invited Jones to participate in a Blue Note date that yielded "Hard Tack," after which the trumpeter sat in with Walter Foots Thomas & His Jump Cats, the unit responsible for "Every Man for Himself" and "Look Out Jack!" While several of his contemporaries (Roy Eldridge in particular) opted for direct involvement in the bebop revolution, Jones was always a straightforward swing player. This excellent collection illustrates the broad foundation of his involvement in that part of the tradition.

Track Listing

Title/Composer Performer Time
1 3:13
2 3:11
3 2:45
4 2:55
feat: Teddy Wilson
6 3:06
7 3:22
8 2:50
10 2:58
11 3:06
12 2:32
13 2:56
14 3:00
15 3:13
16 3:01
17 2:30
18 3:06
19 4:09
20 3:17
feat: Ike Quebec
22 2:54
23 2:48
blue highlight denotes track pick