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