Jonah Jones

1936-1945

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AllMusic Review by

While the first six recordings presented in this initial volume of the chronologically reissued recordings of Jonah Jones are undeniably rare and worth having access to, the reason for their obscurity is immediately apparent. Dick Porter, the nominal leader of both bands responsible for these Vocalion sides, was a Fats Waller imitator of the worst sort. He patterned his act so closely on Waller's jubilant vocal delivery that it is impossible to ascertain what -- if any -- originality existed in the person of Mr. Porter. Seizing upon Waller's habitual exclamations, Porter overused the outburst "Aha!" until it lost every ounce of its novelty or effectiveness. He even absconded with an entire punch line that Waller had used at the end of his own cheerfully misogynistic version of "I Adore You" -- not to be confused with Waller's "I Simply Adore You." The phrase in question -- "To the pound with the beautiful hound" -- required some form of theatrical buildup. While Waller was making canine references all throughout "I Adore You," Porter chucked the line in at the end of "There's No Two Ways About It" as if he couldn't think of anything else to steal from Waller. The effect of all this upon anyone who knows and loves Waller's work is maddening, and Porter sticks in the mind as a primal irritant to be avoided at all costs. What does this have to do with ace trumpeter Jonah Jones? Well, he played on both of these sessions, striving with the other players to deliver solid swing as desired by the public in the middle 1930s. And yet let it be said that the inclusion of two outstanding Keynote dates and one Commodore blowing session more than make up for the itching, burning sensation created by Dick Porter. Jonah Jones & His Orchestra, consisting of only six players, made four wonderful sides for Harry Lim's Keynote label in September of 1944. Having emerged from Cab Calloway's big band, Jones had a healthy habit of including his friends from Calloway's horde. Tyree Glenn played both vibraphone and trombone. Hilton Jefferson, featured soloist on the creamy "Just Like a Butterfly (That's Caught in the Rain)," also cooked when heat was needed. "Lust for Licks" was based on the changes of "Exactly Like You," and "B.H. Boogie" was a tip of the hat to Buster Harding, whose arrangement of "Twelfth Street Rag" inspired some serious jamming. The 1945 Milt Hinton Sextet, also billed by Keynote as an "Orchestra," shared three crucial players with the previous band: Tyree Glenn, the honorable Mr. Hinton, and the immaculate J.C. Heard. Hinton's "Beefsteak Charlie" got its name from a bar in Manhattan that was preferred by jazz musicians. The reissuing of these Keynote recordings is a serious matter, and the producers of the Classics Chronological Series are to be commended for making them digitally available to the public in the same package with Jones' Commodore session from July 31, 1945. For here are the very best elements from both of the previous bands -- Glenn, Jefferson, Hinton, and Heard -- bundled in with several other strong players including clarinetist Buster Bailey and smokestack tenor Ike Quebec. Jefferson is handed another elegant ballad in "You Brought a New Kind of Love to Me," and the band deep-fries the "Rose of the Rio Grande." "Hubba Hubba Hub" seems at first a bit short on melodic invention but quickly evolves into a perfectly satisfying jam vehicle, closing with one of Jones' hottest solos on record. "Stompin' at the Savoy" is set up as a march by Heard, then struts itself silly.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 2:45
2
2:20
3
2:36
4 2:41
5 2:21
6 2:08
7 2:24
8 3:00
9 2:33
10 3:02
11
2:28
12
2:56
13
3:07
14
2:27
15 3:07
16 3:46
17 4:11
18 4:17
blue highlight denotes track pick