Jimmy Jones (pianist)

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Jimmy Jones and John Levy, 1947
Photography by William P. Gottlieb
Sol Yaged, John Levy, Jimmy Jones, and Rex Stewart, Pied Piper, New York, c. September 1946
Photograph by William P. Gottlieb

James Henry Jones (December 30, 1918, Memphis, Tennessee – April 29, 1982, Burbank, California) was an American jazz pianist and arranger.

Biography[edit]

As a child, Jones learned guitar and piano. He worked in various orchestras in Chicago from 1936 and played in a trio with Stuff Smith from 1943 to 1945. Following this, he played with Don Byas, Dizzy Gillespie (1945), J.C. Heard (1945–47), Buck Clayton (1946) and Etta Jones. He accompanied Sarah Vaughan from 1947 to 1952 and then again from 1954 to 1957 after a long illness. In 1954, he played on an album with Clifford Brown and accompanied him on his European tour. Around this time, he also played with Helen Merrill and Gil Evans. In 1959, he accompanied Anita O'Day in her appearance at the Newport Jazz Festival and also worked with Dakota Staton, Pat Suzuki, and Morgana King.

As a pianist and arranger in New York, he worked in the 1960s with Harry Belafonte, Johnny Hodges, Budd Johnson, Nat Gonella, and Clark Terry. He accompanied Chris Connor on "Where Flamingoes Fly" and sat in with the Duke Ellington Orchestra for some collaborations with Ella Fitzgerald. Jones did a fine set with his trio (Jimmy Hughart and Grady Tate) at the Antibes Jazz Festival in 1966, and he went on tour with Jazz at the Philharmonic the following year. In the 1970s, he worked with Kenny Burrell and Cannonball Adderley.

In the course of his career, Jones played piano on recordings by Harry Sweets Edison, Ben Webster, Big Joe Turner, Coleman Hawkins, Frank Wess, Milt Jackson, Sidney Bechet, Sonny Rollins, Sonny Stitt, and Thad Jones and worked as an arranger for Wes Montgomery, Nancy Wilson, Shirley Horn, Joe Williams, Billy Taylor, and Chris Connor.

Dave Brubeck cited Jones as an influence and said of him, "He didn't like to solo. Harmonically, though, he was one of the greatest players I ever heard."[1]

Discography[edit]

As leader[edit]

As sideman[edit]

With Kenny Burrell

With Buck Clayton
With Harry Edison

With Johnny Griffin

With Johnny Hodges

With Illinois Jacquet

With Budd Johnson

With Thad Jones

With Helen Merrill

With Joe Newman

With Paul Quinichette

With Sonny Stitt

With Clark Terry

With Ben Webster

With Sarah Vaughan

With Nancy Wilson

As arranger[edit]

With Johnny Hodges

With Milt Jackson

With Billy Taylor

With Nancy Wilson

  • Easy (Capitol, 1968)
  1. ^ Len Lyons, The Great Jazz Pianists, Da Capo Press, 1983, p. 107.