This name can lead in many stylistic directions in the music business, jazz discographers alone acknowledging the existence of at least four different people named Jimmy Ford and/or Jim Ford and James Ford. The locale for trumpeter Jimmy Ford was Chicago, the Windy City's name also a convenient double, like trumpet and flügelhorn, when it comes time to discuss Ford's place in hometown musical history. First, however, it is necessary to mention that this is not the trumpeter named Jimmy Ford, also credited quite regularly as James Ford, who plays in electric blues bands on the Houston music scene.
The Chicago Jimmy Ford was a bandleader as well as a brass section member. In fact, his Jimmy Ford & the Executives, later evolving into the Mob, was something of a model in terms of what was sometimes called a "club band." By the mid-'60s, some of the players who would eventually form the hit soft rock outfit Chicago were toiling as sidemen for Ford. Chicago's Robert Lamm describes Jimmy Ford & the Executives as one of the "knockout club bands which always had three horns, a rhythm section, and a guy down front singing...They worked college dates, they worked teen clubs, big clubs. That's what we wanted to do."
"We" included brilliant guitarist Terry Kath, eventually to blossom as Chicago's best free-form soloist. Ford's band worked for several years as the backup unit on Dick Clark's Caravan of Stars. In order to conclude on a similar note of confusion to the beginning, Ford's later outfit the Mob should not be confused with R&B saxophonist Arnett Cobb's backup combo of the same name, which sometimes featured the trumpeter James Ford, previously described as to who he is and who he is not.