Smith, Jabbo [Cladys ]
- Chris Albertson
(b Pembroke, GA, Dec 24, 1908; d New York, NY, Jan 16, 1991). American jazz trumpeter, valve trombonist, and singer. Sent by his mother to the Jenkins Orphanage in Charleston South Carolina at age six, he learned to play trombone at ten and made fund-raising tours with one of the orphanage’s brass bands. Around 1925 he was given nine dollars and sent home to his mother, but went to his sister in Philadelphia and on to Atlantic City, where bandleader Charlie Johnson hired him and eventually brought him to New York’s Small’s Paradise. He replaced Bubber Miley on a 1927 Duke Ellington recording session, declined an invitation to stay in the orchestra, and accepted a job with James P. Johnson’s and Fats Waller’s Broadway show Keep Shufflin’. When the show disbanded in Chicago at the end of 1928, Smith remained and found ample work. An imaginative trumpeter with a fiery style, he was often likened to Louis Armstrong, which prompted producer Mayo Williams to have him form a quintet that could be the Brunswick label’s answer to Armstrong’s popular Hot Five recordings. The Rhythm Aces recorded 20 selections and sales were disappointing, but these performances would, with time, establish his importance to the evolution of jazz trumpet style. Roy Eldridge, who cited Smith as a vital influence, would later serve as an inspiration to Dizzy Gillespie....