Jonah Jones

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, he is known 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.

Jonah Jones
Jones, ca. March 1947
Background information
Birth nameRobert Elliott Jones
Also known asKing Louis II
Born(1909-12-31)December 31, 1909
Louisville, Kentucky
United States
DiedApril 28, 2000(2000-04-28) (aged 90)
GenresJazz, swing, boogie-woogie, jump blues
InstrumentsTrumpet, alto saxophone
Years active1920s- 2000
LabelsCapitol, Decca, Motown
Associated actsStuff Smith, Cab Calloway


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 a 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 Harold "Hard Nuts" 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),[1] sister of Russell Bowles.[2] They had four children.


  • The Jonah Jones Quartet: Jonah Jones at The Embers (Groove LG-1001; Vik LX-1135; RCA Victor LPM-2004) (Released 1956; re-released 1958; and re-released again in 1959)
  • Muted Jazz (Capitol T-839; Capitol SM-11455) (Released 1957; re-released 1976) - note: includes "On The Street Where You Live"
  • The Jonah Jones Quartet: Swingin' on Broadway (Capitol T-963) (Released 1958)
  • The Jonah Jones Quartet: Jumpin' with Jonah (Capitol ST-1039) (Released 1958)
  • The Jonah Jones Quartet: Swingin' at the Cinema (Capitol ST-1083) (Released 1958)
  • The Jonah Jones Quartet: Jonah Jumps Again (Capitol ST-1115) (Released 1959)
  • I Dig Chicks! (Capitol ST-1193) (Released 1959) - note: won the Grammy Award for Best Jazz Instrumental Album
  • The Jonah Jones Quartet: Swingin' Round the World (Capitol ST-1237) (Released 1959)
  • Hit Me Again! (Capitol ST-1375) (Released 1960)
  • The Jonah Jones Quartet: Jumpin' with a Shuffle (Capitol ST-1404) (Released 1960)
  • The Jonah Jones Quartet: A Touch of Blue (Capitol ST-1405) (Released 1960)
  • The Jonah Jones Quartet: The Unsinkable Jonah Jones Swings The Unsinkable Molly Brown (Capitol ST-1532) (Released 1961)
  • Great Instrumental Hits Styled by Jonah Jones (Capitol ST-1557) (Released 1961)
  • The Jonah Jones Quartet: Broadway Swings Again (Capitol ST-1641) (Released 1961)
  • Jonah Jones/Glen Gray (Capitol ST-1660) (Released 1962)
  • Jazz Bonus (Capitol ST-1773) (Released 1962)
  • That Righteous Feelin' (Capitol T-1839) (Released 1963)
  • And Now in Person: Jonah Jones (Capitol ST-1948) (Released 1963)
  • The Jonah Jones Quartet with Four Trombones: Blowin' Up a Storm (Capitol ST-2087) (Released 1964)
  • The Jonah Jones Quartet: Hello Broadway! (Decca DL-74638) (Released 1965)
  • The Jonah Jones Quartet: On the Sunny Side of the Street (Decca DL-74688) (Released 1965)
  • The Jonah Jones Quartet: Tijuana Taxi (Decca DL-74765) (Released 1966)
  • The Jonah Jones Quartet: Sweet With A Beat (Decca DL-74800) (Released 1966)
  • The Jonah Jones Quartet: Good Time Medleys (Decca DL-74861) (Released 1967)
  • The Best of Jonah Jones [compilation] (Capitol ST-2594) (Released 1966)
  • Along Came Jonah (Motown MS-683) (Released 1968)
  • A Little Dis, A Little Dat (Motown MS-690) (Released 1969)
  • Earl Hines/Jonah Jones/Buddy Tate/Cozy Cole: Back on the Street (Chiaroscuro CR-118) (Released 1972)
  • Confessin' (Disques Black And Blue 33.136) (Released 1978)
  • I Dig Jonah! The Jonah Jones Capitol Collection [CD compilation] (Collectors' Choice Music CCM-108) (Released 1999)


  1. C. Calloway Brooks on Jonah Jones Archived 2015-08-10 at the Wayback Machine.
  2. Jonah Jones at
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