Billy Jones

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The trumpeter Billy Jones has been active since the mid-'40s. While recordings involving him were not issued until the following decade, documentation of various private jam sessions or gigs has emerged…
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The trumpeter Billy Jones has been active since the mid-'40s. While recordings involving him were not issued until the following decade, documentation of various private jam sessions or gigs has emerged featuring Jones in the company of players such as the purring pianist Dick Katz and spicy clarinetist Johnny Mince. Bandleader Johnny Otis drafted Jones in the '50s, prompting a move to the West Coast and an eventual focus on the R&B scene. As the '60s began to develop into a heaven for the funky and a hell for swinging big bands, Jones was no doubt happy to have already made the break that many other section horn players were reluctantly forced to.

The Otis show's focus on showmanship tangled up with musicianship encouraged many of the sidemen to develop interesting instrumental doubles. Jones began playing vibraphone, a chance to land on high notes with a mallet rather than his lips and an eventual plus on atmospheric recording sessions with Esther Phillips and others. Not to be confused with the singing and guitar-picking bluesman Billy who calls his music "bluez," the trumpeter held forth in what were considered Otis' best groups, loaded with fantastic sidemen, including keyboardist Bill Doggett, trombonist Henry Coker, and tenor saxophonist Paul Quinichette.