Dolly Jones (trumpeter)

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Dolly Jones (born 27 November 1902, Chicago, Illinois - August 1975, Bronx, New York City), also known as Doli Armenra and Dolly Hutchinson,[1] was the first female jazz trumpeter to be recorded.[2]


Her mother, Diyaw (sometimes spelled Diyah or Dyer) Jones, was a pre-Armstrong jazz trumpeter who also taught Valaida Snow . Her father played saxophone. She was briefly married to saxophonist Jimmy "Hook" Hutchinson, during which she began to use his last name professionally. Although her mother may have taught her how to play, Jones was largely self-taught. She and her mother adopted the surname Armenra (sometimes spelled Armenera or Amenra).[3]


With her mother and father, she was part of the Jones Family Band, which worked with Josephine Baker in 1919. In the early 1920s, she formed a trio in Kansas City called the Three Classy Misses. Jones then toured as a trombonist in the bands of Ma Rainey in the Grand Theater in Chicago and was cornetist for Al Wynn's OKeh recordings.[4] She toured with Ida Cox in 1928 and with Lil Hardin Armstrong's Harlem Harlicans in the early 1930s. The band performed in the Lafayette Theater and Apollo Theater in New York City and Chicago's Regal Theater.[5] In 1932, she formed her own band the Twelve Spirits of Rhythm. In New York City, she was part of a 15-member multiracial band called the Disciples of Swing.[4] This band was billed as "seven whites, seven colored, and Dolly".[3]

Jones was the first trumpet player who recorded a jazz record. She was involved in two recording sessions: in 1926, Albert Wynn's Gut Bucket Five (including with Barney Bigard) and 1941 in the Stuff Smith Sextet.[6]

She played Miss Watkins, "a little girl from Birmingham",[7] a trumpeter in Oscar Michaux's 1936 musical film Swing!. She was credited as "Doli Armena". She has no speaking role in the film, but she makes several cameo performances as a trumpeter,[3] playing the songs "I May Be Wrong (But I Think You're Wonderful)" and "China Boy". She also appeared as an extra in Michaux's 1938 movie God's Step Children.[3] She continued to play into the seventies with Eddie Barefield.


  1. ^ Sherrie Tucker (6 June 2000). "Swing Shift: "All-Girl" Bands of the 1940s". Duke University Press. p. 106. ISBN 0-8223-2817-8.
  2. ^ Linda Dahl (1984). "Stormy Weather: The Music and Lives of a Century of Jazzwomen". Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 28. ISBN 978-0-87910-128-2.
  3. ^ a b c d Tucker, Sherrie (2009). "Beyond the Brass Ceiling: Dolly Jones Trumpets Modernity in Oscar Micheaux's Swing!". Jazz Perspectives (1).
  4. ^ a b D. Antoinette Handy (1998). "Black Women in American Bands and Orchestras". Scarecrow Press. p. 166. ISBN 978-0-8108-3419-4.
  5. ^ D. Antoinette Handy (1998). "Black Women in American Bands and Orchestras". Scarecrow Press. p. 43. ISBN 978-0-8108-3419-4.
  6. ^ "Tom Lord Jazz Discography". Retrieved 4 July 2014.
  7. ^ Jayna Brown (1 January 2009). "Babylon Girls: Black Women Performers and the Shaping of the Modern". Duke University Press. p. 206. ISBN 0-8223-9069-8.

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