Cliff Jones

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It might be a surprise to what extent the name" Yellowjackets" has been used in the music business, perhaps inspired by fairly regular sales on clothing of this color and the ad-hoc band uniforms that…
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It might be a surprise to what extent the name" Yellowjackets" has been used in the music business, perhaps inspired by fairly regular sales on clothing of this color and the ad-hoc band uniforms that can subsequently be created. There are indeed such swarms of groups utilizing this name that there is even more than one Original Yellow Jackets. A hive of jazz fusion funksters buzzing around guitarist Robben Ford are nothing but johnny-come-lately's when it comes to a combo name proudly used by an ensemble that was active in Arkansas during the second half of the '30s. Recording sessions from this period provide a chance for vintage jazz listeners to be stung by the sounds of Cliff Jones, alto saxophonist and clarinetist.

This artist should not be confused with the New Orleans jazz drummer whose teeth garnered him the nickname of Clifford "Snag" Jones -- a mistake that would not be made if it were the two musicians' dental records that were being compared. The Arkansas reed player was one of quite a number of musicians whose efforts in various genres were recorded by the American Record Corporation on a field trip to Hot Springs, Arkansas in the early spring of 1937. This Original Yellow Jackets presented an almost classically miniaturized version of a big band sound: five horns plus a hard-charging rhythm section.

The Vocalion label was one of several historic recording firms that wound up releasing the resulting sides, some with impossibly hip titles as in "Swinging at the Chat and Chew."