born on 31/12/1909 in Louisville, KY, United States
died on 30/4/2000 in New York City, NY, United States
Jonah Jones (born Robert Elliott Jones; December 31, 1909 – April 29, 2000) was a jazz trumpeter who created concise versions of jazz and swing and jazz standards that appealed to a mass audience. In the jazz community, it can be argued that he might be best appreciated for his work with Stuff Smith. He was sometimes referred to as "King Louis II," a reference to Louis Armstrong. Jones started playing alto saxophone at the age of 12 in the Booker T. Washington Community Center band in Louisville, Kentucky before quickly transitioning to trumpet, where he excelled.
Jones was born in Louisville, Kentucky. Jones began his career playing on a river boat named Island Queen, which traveled between Kentucky and Ohio. He began in the 1920s playing on Mississippi riverboats and then in 1928 he joined with Horace Henderson. Later he worked with Jimmie Lunceford and had an early collaboration with Stuff Smith in 1932. From 1932 to 1936 he had a successful collaboration with Smith, but in the 1940s he worked in big bands like Benny Carter's and Fletcher Henderson's. He would spend most of decade with Cab Calloway's band which later became a combo.
Starting in the 1950s, he had his own quartet and began concentrating on a formula which gained him wider appeal for a decade. The quartet consisted of George "River Rider" Rhodes on piano, John "Broken Down" Browne on bass and "Hard Nuts Harold" Austin on drums. The most-mentioned accomplishment of this style is their version of "On The Street Where You Live", a strong-swinging treatment of the Broadway tune with a boogie-woogie jump blues feel. This effort succeeded and he began to be known to a wider audience. This led to his quartet performing on An Evening With Fred Astaire in 1958 and an award at the Grammy Awards of 1960, receiving the Grammy Award for Best Jazz Instrumental Album. In 1972 he made a return to more "core" jazz work with Earl Hines on the Chiaroscuro Album "Back On The Street". Jones enjoyed especial popularity in France, being featured in a jazz festival in the Salle Pleyel.
A 1996 videotaped interview completed by Dan Del Fiorentino was donated to the NAMM Oral History Program Collection in 2010 to preserve his music for future generations.
Jones performed in the orchestra pit under the direction of Alexander Smallens and briefly in an onstage musical sequence of Porgy and Bess, starring Cab Calloway.
He was inducted into the Big Band and Jazz Hall of Fame in 1999 and died the following year in New York City.
Jonah Jones married the trumpeter, clarinetist and hornist Elizabeth Bowles (1910–1993), sister of Russell Bowles. They had four children.
- Jonah Jones: Muted Jazz (Capitol T-839) (Released 1957)
- The Jonah Jones Quartet - Swingin' On Broadway (Capitol T963 Mono) (Released 1957)
- The Jonah Jones Quartet - Jumpin' with Jonah (Capitol T1039 Mono and ST1039 Stereo) (Released 1958)
- The Jonah Jones Quartet - Swingin' at the Cinema (Capitol T1083 Mono) (Released 1958)
- Jonah Jumps Again: The Jonah Jones Quartet (Capitol ST-1115) (Released 1959)
- Hit Me Again (Capitol T-1375) (Released 1959)
- The Jonah Jones Quartet at The Embers (RCA Victor LPM-2004) (Released 1959)
- I Dig Chicks! (Capitol ST-1193) (Released 1959) Grammy Award for Best Jazz Instrumental Album
- Swingin' Round the World (Capitol ST-1237)
- Jumpin' with a Shuffle (Capitol ST-1404) (Released 1960)
- The Unsinkable Molly Brown (Capitol ST-1532) (Released 1961)
- Great Instrumental Hits Styled by Jonah Jones (Capitol ST-1557) (Released 1961)
- Broadway Swings again - The Jonah Jones Quartet (Capitol ST-1641) (Released 1961)
- The Jonah Jones Quartet with Glen Gray - Jonah Jones - Glen Gray (Capitol ST-1660)
- Jazz Bonus (Capitol ST-1773) (Released 1962)
- Blowin' Up A Storm (Capitol ST-2087) (Released 1962)
- On the Sunny Side of the Street - the Jonah Jone Quartet (Decca DL 74688) (Released 1965)
- Tijuana Taxi (Decca DL 4765) (Released 1966)
- Along Came Jonah (Motown MS-683) (Released 1969)
- A Little Dis, A Little Dat (Motown MS-690) (Released 1969)
- C. Calloway Brooks on Jonah Jones Archived 2015-08-10 at the Wayback Machine..
- Jonah Jones at JazzArcheology.com.
- BBC Radio 2 biography
- Scott Yanow Allmusic
- Jonah Jones discography at Discogs
- Robert Eliott "Jonah" Jones at Find a Grave