Herbie Jones was a jazz trumpeter, composer, and arranger whose credits include working alongside two of the genre's biggest names — Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn. Born in Miami, FL, in 1926, Jones began his love affair with music at 14, later dropping out of college to relocate to New York and join up with the Lucky Millinder Band. In the ensuing years, Jones built up an impressive resumé playing in bands led by the likes of Andy Kirk, Buddy Johnson, and Cab Calloway, and studying arranging/composition with Eddie Barefield. But Jones is best-known for his work with Ellington, contributing to his first and second Sacred Concerts and arranging such songs as "El Busto," "Cootie's Caravan," "The Prowling Cat," and "The Opener." Although he played first trumpet in Ellington's band, he rarely soloed because he felt that it would forever pigeonhole him with the instantly recognizable Ellington sound (Ellington himself had nothing but praise for Jones: In his 1973 memoir, Music Is My Mistress, he called Jones "a great asset" to his orchestra during the '60s). Jones was one of the few musicians in Ellington's career that he permitted to sit between he and Strayhorn, as they penned musical bits and sketches, which Jones would then take and transcribe for the other musicians in the band to play. After leaving Ellington's band, Jones signed on as the first director at the New York City alternative school, Arts and Culture Inc., and directed the Bugle Corps of the Police Athletic League in Harlem. On March 19, 2001, Jones died in the Bronx, NY, at the age of 74, due to complications from diabetes.
- by Greg Prato
All Music Group