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jeffcrom

Claude Jones

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Claude Jones (1901 - 1962) was one of the great swing trombonists, but I feel that he is somewhat overlooked. I think I first really took notice of him, many years ago, when I heard "I Thought I Heard Buddy Bolden Say" from Jelly Roll Morton's 1939 Victor "comeback" session. Sidney Bechet's soprano sax solo was perfect in timing and poise, with a surprising octave jump just past the halfway point, but the trombone solo which followed really caught my attention. It was only half as long as Bechet's 16-measure solo, but the asymmetrical phrasing and thoughtful note choices made Jones' solo at least as memorable as Bechet's. From the moment I heard these eight measures, I was a Claude Jones fan.

Jones played and recorded with McKinney's Cotton Pickers (that excellent band with the regretable name), Fletcher Henderson, Don Redman, Cab Calloway, and in the 1940s, Duke Ellington. Scott Yanow dryly says that he was "underutilized" during his stint with Ellington. Around 1951, he took a job as mess steward on a cruise ship; he died at sea in 1962.

Claude Jones never made a session as leader, and although he is on a lot of recordings, his solography is not that extensive. Among my favorite solos by this great trombonist:

McKinney's Cotton Pickers - It's Tight Like That (1928). Bluesy and forward-looking at the same time.

McKinney's Cotton Pickers - Plain Dirt (1929). This solo, like many of his solos with the Cotton Pickers, is only eight measures long. But, wow - he really packs a lot into those eight measures, like some interesting three-against-four rhythmic displacement in the second half.

Fletcher Henderson - Chinatown My Chinatown (1930). Beautiful, fast, fluid trombone playing.

Fletcher Henderson - Sugarfoot Stomp (1931). Jones takes the first trombone solo on this tune, which Henderson recorded for Columbia, Melotone, Crown, and Victor. Jones plays an excellent, similar solo on each.

Fletcher Henderson - Somebody Stole My Gal (1931). This one is marked by striking note choices.

Jelly Roll Morton - I Thought I Heard Buddy Bolden Say (1939). See above.

Louis Armstrong/Sidney Bechet - Perdido Street Blues (1940). Despite the producer repeatedly telling him, "More tailgate, Jones, more tailgate!," the trombonist plays an excellent "modern" duet passage with Bechet.

To repeat myself a little, Claude Jones' playing is marked by creative, asymmetrical phrasing, thoughtful and unusual note choices, and very accomplished technique. Check him out.

Edited by jeffcrom

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Thanks, Jeff. Posts like that one make this place truly worthwhile.

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Thanks, Jeff. Posts like that one make this place truly worthwhile.

Ditto that.

Jeff, are you listening to the McKinney's disc on Frog? Gonna have to dig out my copy now.

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Thanks, Jeff. Posts like that one make this place truly worthwhile.

Ditto that.

Jeff, are you listening to the McKinney's disc on Frog? Gonna have to dig out my copy now.

Thank y'all. I just feel like more people should know how great Claude Jones was.

Late, I don't have the complete McKinney on the Frog CDs. I have the RCA/Bluebird CD The Band Don Redman Built, some other tracks on anthologies and some 78s I don't have on LP or CD.

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he was one of the early ones I heard when I started listening to Fletcher in the late '60s. I wish there was more about him - an interview, maybe - around.

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Thanks, Jeff. Posts like that one make this place truly worthwhile.

:tup

+1

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Jeff,

Most of his work was in big bands where he often had other talented trombonists around. For example, the equally overlooked trombonist Sandy Williams played alongside Jones with Chick Webb and Coleman Hawkins.

Jones didn't record much following his stints with Ellington, where there again were other fine (and more often featured) trombone soloists in the band.

There are some small group sides on which you get a better chance to hear him, such as the Armstrong date that you mentioned. Another is the Benny Morton Trombone Choir session for Keynote from 1944 where you get to hear Benny Morton, Vic Dickenson, Bill Harris, and Jones. Wonderful date.

Another small group session is the Morton (Jelly Roll) Seven date from 1940 on General (later on Commodore).

Claude Jones (1901 - 1962) was one of the great swing trombonists, but I feel that he is somewhat overlooked. I think I first really took notice of him, many years ago, when I heard "I Thought I Heard Buddy Bolden Say" from Jelly Roll Morton's 1939 Victor "comeback" session. Sidney Bechet's soprano sax solo was perfect in timing and poise, with a surprising octave jump just past the halfway point, but the trombone solo which followed really caught my attention. It was only half as long as Bechet's 16-measure solo, but the asymmetrical phrasing and thoughtful note choices made Jones' solo at least as memorable as Bechet's. From the moment I heard these eight measures, I was a Claude Jones fan.

Jones played and recorded with McKinney's Cotton Pickers (that excellent band with the regretable name), Fletcher Henderson, Don Redman, Cab Calloway, and in the 1940s, Duke Ellington. Scott Yanow dryly says that he was "underutilized" during his stint with Ellington. Around 1951, he took a job as mess steward on a cruise ship; he died at sea in 1962.

Claude Jones never made a session as leader, and although he is on a lot of recordings, his solography is not that extensive. Among my favorite solos by this great trombonist:

McKinney's Cotton Pickers - It's Tight Like That (1928). Bluesy and forward-looking at the same time.

McKinney's Cotton Pickers - Plain Dirt (1929). This solo, like many of his solos with the Cotton Pickers, is only eight measures long. But, wow - he really packs a lot into those eight measures, like some interesting three-against-four rhythmic displacement in the second half.

Fletcher Henderson - Chinatown My Chinatown (1930). Beautiful, fast, fluid trombone playing.

Fletcher Henderson - Sugarfoot Stomp (1931). Jones takes the first trombone solo on this tune, which Henderson recorded for Columbia, Melotone, Crown, and Victor. Jones plays an excellent, similar solo on each.

Fletcher Henderson - Somebody Stole My Gal (1931). This one is marked by striking note choices.

Jelly Roll Morton - I Thought I Heard Buddy Bolden Say (1939). See above.

Louis Armstrong/Sidney Bechet - Perdido Street Blues (1940). Despite the producer repeatedly telling him, "More tailgate, Jones, more tailgate!," the trombonist plays an excellent "modern" duet passage with Bechet.

To repeat myself a little, Claude Jones' playing is marked by creative, asymmetrical phrasing, thoughtful and unusual note choices, and very accomplished technique. Check him out.

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Dang - I forgot that he was on that Keynote trombone session. I need to give that a spin soon.

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Thanks, Jeff. Posts like that one make this place truly worthwhile.

:tup

+1 +2

Also what's valuable about posts like this is that everyone hopes for a legacy of some sort with the recognition that comes with it. So here is mention of an overlooked but wonderful player who does have a legacy and recognition because of posts like jeff's that increase others' (mine, for one) awareness of him. And, of course, thanks to this forum for providing the vehicle.

Edited by TedR

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Jones didn't record much following his stints with Ellington, where there again were other fine (and more often featured) trombone soloists in the band.

There are some small group sides on which you get a better chance to hear him, such as the Armstrong date that you mentioned. Another is the Benny Morton Trombone Choir session for Keynote from 1944 where you get to hear Benny Morton, Vic Dickenson, Bill Harris, and Jones. Wonderful date.

Another small group session is the Morton (Jelly Roll) Seven date from 1940 on General (later on Commodore).

NOW I know where I had come across his name in the line-up of a record I played not long ago. ;) Thanks for the reminder.

Edited by Big Beat Steve

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he's on a Keynote - that I need to hear.

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Is he on any of these McKinney Cotton Picker songs I have from Joe Bussard?

1. Milenburg Joys
2. Nobody's Sweetheart
3. Shim Me sha Wabble
4. Put it There
5. Stop Kidding
6. Zonky
7. Do Something
8. It's a Precious Thing Called Love
9. Hallabaloo
10. Selling That Stuff
11. Miss Hannah
12. I'd Love It
13. Baby Won't You Please Come Home
14. Peggy
15. If I Could Be With You
16. I Want a Little Girl
17. Do You Believe in Love
18. Never Swat a Fly

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Is he on any of these McKinney Cotton Picker songs I have from Joe Bussard?

1. Milenburg Joys
2. Nobody's Sweetheart
3. Shim Me sha Wabble
4. Put it There
5. Stop Kidding
6. Zonky
7. Do Something
8. It's a Precious Thing Called Love
9. Hallabaloo
10. Selling That Stuff
11. Miss Hannah
12. I'd Love It
13. Baby Won't You Please Come Home
14. Peggy
15. If I Could Be With You
16. I Want a Little Girl
17. Do You Believe in Love
18. Never Swat a Fly

Jones is on all the sides I highlighted in red, and solos on most of them. (There are a couple I haven't heard.) But during his tenure with the Cotton Pickers, he was the only trombonist, so if there is a trombone solo on one of those sides, it's him.

And I just listened to "Milenburg Joys" - the original 78 and an alternate take on CD. Add that solo to my list of my favorite Claude Jones solos - it's very impressive.

Edited by jeffcrom

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Dang - I forgot that he was on that Keynote trombone session. I need to give that a spin soon.

It is great to find a post (and replies) here about a fantastic trombonist much forgotten today ! What a wonderful, swinging and unique session Harry Lim organized in May '44: Benny Morton's "Trombone Choir" came up with 3 incredible tracks and one that I do not like that much - I think "Sliphorn Outing" was way too fast.

"Liza", however, ranks among my all-time favorite trombone-recordings ! Both, "Once In A While" and "Where Or When" are also amazing: I just played my Keynote 12'' 78's again...

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Nice to see you back Jaffa.

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Just wanted to add a new (to me) discovery to my list of favorite Claude Jones solos. It's another short one - Jones takes the bridge in the middle of a Chu Berry tenor solo on Cab Calloway's "She's Tall, She's Tan, She's Terrific." The gorgeous ascending phrase at the end of this brief outing makes this one well worth hearing.

Edited by jeffcrom

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