Life and achievements
Together with his brother Cliff, Jones taught himself to play the saxophone, before the two of them founded a dance band in 1930. Named “Campus Club Dance Band” it was semi-professional and when it had been dissolved in 1935, Jones tried to establish himself as a professional musician, becoming a member of a combo led by trumpeter Johnny Claes, with musicians who played in the style of Coleman Hawkins. In 1942 and 1943, Jones worked for the BBC radio programme “Radio Rhythm Club”; and in 1942, together with authors Albert Mc Carthy and Charles Fox, he founded the magazine Jazz Music, which became meritorious as it set out "to reassert the pioneering role of the African-American, to emphasise the music’s social dimensions, and to attack the glossy commercialism of big-band swing".
Since 1944, Jones had had a full-time job writing features for the Melody Maker in the column “Collectors’ Corner”. In the following years he gained more and more high recognition as a proven expert of New Orleans Jazz, swing, and mainstream jazz. A collection of his articles on musicians such as Coleman Hawkins, Johnny Hodges, Billie Holiday, and Mary Lou Williams was published as a book entitled Talking Jazz in 1987. In 1971 Jones published a Louis Armstrong biography, Louis Armstrong Story, together with John Chilton. Jones also wrote a number of liner notes, e.g. for the CD edition of the Kenny Clarke/Francy Boland Big Band and the Spirits of Rhythm.
Jones was the first jazz musician to become a professional journalist and exclusively dealt with jazz in his publications. He was a model and a mentor for a younger generation of rock music critics and authors. .
Jones was married to Betty Salberg and had one son.
- LOUIS: The Louis Armstrong Story, 1900-1971 (with John Chilton) Boston: Little, Brown and Co. 1971 ISBN 0-306-80324-0
- "LOUIS: The Louis Armstrong Story 1900 - 1971" (with John Chilton) New York City (new preface by Dan Morgenstern) : Da Capo Press 1988 ISBN 0-306-80322-6
- TALKING JAZZ" : London, MacMillan, 1987 ISBN 0-333-43431-5
- "JAZZ TALKING" : "Profiles, Interviews & Other Riffs" New York City: (new preface by Stanley Dance) Da Capo Press, 2000 ISBN 0-306-80948-6
- Lee Collins, Mary Spriggs Collins, Frank Gillis, John W. Miner Oh, Didn't He Ramble: The Life Story of Lee Collins (preface by Max Jones)
- obituary in The Independent, 4 August 1993
- the Jazz site
- Floyd Levin, Benny Carter: Classic Jazz: A Personal View of the Music and the Musicians
- Vgl. Ian Carr, Digby Fairweather, Brian Priestley: Jazz Rough Guide, Stuttgart 1999, S. 606
- John Shepherd: Continuum Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World. Vol. 1: Media, Industry and Society, S. 305