The trumpeter who was often known as Wardell "Preacher" Jones came and went mysteriously in the early decades of jazz, making reliable contributions to early big bands led by visionaries such as the multi-instrumentalist and composer Benny Carter. While some of Jones' peers sought out the newly developing complexity of modern jazz, the trumpeter seemed to be looking for something more basic, spending at least half a decade with the Mills Blue Rhythm Band, a stylistic predecessor of rock & roll if there ever was one. He did some arrangements for this group as well as dabbling in a bit of trombone.
Jones was born in the early 20th century; birthdates provided in references such John Chilton's Who's Who in Jazz are considered to be only approximate. More specific is the fact that the trumpeter was on the bandstand with Bill Brown & His Brownies at New York City's Alhambra Ballroom circa the spring of 1929, having either acquired the gig as a local player or wandered into town from elsewhere. He soon shuffled over to the competing Arcadian Ballroom with Carter, then was with leader Bingie Madison until joining the previously mentioned Mills Blue Rhythm Band in 1930. His final gigs, leading up to 1938, were with fellow trumpeter Hot Lips Page and a big band presided over by pianist and singer Fats Waller.