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Jabbo Smith

Hailed a one of the original trumpet kings, Cladys Smith was born in Pembroke, GA on December 24, 1908. He was sent to the Jenkins Orphanage by his mother Ida Smith when he was six year old. Jabbo began playing the cornet at age eight and began touring with the Jenkins Band at age ten. During his stay at the orphanage Jabbo constantly ran away and in 1925, at age 17 he left for good in order to play professionally with Harry Marsh in Philadelphia.

During the 1920s and 1930s, Jabbo was seen as a rival to Louis Armstrong. Jabbo played in New York for a while with such bands as the Charlie Johnson Band, Sidney Bechet and the James P. Johnson Orchestra where he was a part of the movie "Keep Shufflin'".

Jabbo played in various cities around the states, as in Florida with Eagle Eye Shields Band as well as Chicago with Carol Dickerson, Erskine Tate, Charlie Elgar and Tiny Parham. In November of 1927 Jabbo recorded with Duke Ellington on a piece entitled "Black and Tan Fantasy". Jabbo's recording debut with his own band the Rhythm Aces was in 1929 for the Brunswick label where he cut around 19 sides.

After playing with Claude Hopkins for two years in Milwaukee, Jabbo finally settled there in the 1940s. After this move Jabbo wasn't heard from as much and slowly faded out of the music business. He did attempt a brief comeback in the ‘60’s and then re-surfaced and played in "One Mo' Time" in the 1970s. In 1975 he was honored at the NJF-NY hall of fame concert. In 1991 Jabbo passed away in St. Louis, Missouri.


Jazz That Scratches, Swings and Pops

Turn Up Those Footnotes!

Read "Turn Up Those Footnotes!" reviewed by Andrew J. Sammut

Even if the names William Shakespeare and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart ring some bells for contemporary audiences, chances are Thomas Marlowe or Giovanni Paisiello might not get a chime. Yet, Marlowe's plays drew droves of theatergoers in Elizabethan England, and Paisiello's operas packed 18th century houses. It doesn't take an English scholar or the Metropolitan Opera's management to explain what popular taste amounts to historically. Aside from being popular, Marlowe and Paisiello were also gifted. They just never ...

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The Story of Jabbo Smith This Week on Riverwalk Jazz

The Story of Jabbo Smith This Week on Riverwalk Jazz

Source: Don Mopsick

Jabbo Smith had a short but important recording career in the late 1920s when he became the first trumpeter to seriously challenge Louis Armstrong with a virtuosity years ahead of its time. On this week's Riverwalk Jazz, The Jim Cullum Jazz Band revives their favorite Jabbo Smith compositions, we'll hear scenes of Jabbo's life from his own oral histories as told by special guest Vernel Bagneris. Mr. Bagneris wrote and directed the international hit revue One Mo' Time, and he ...

Drew Nugent



Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

Ace of Rhythm

Pearl Jazz Recording Label






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