Cladys "Jabbo" Smith


Jabbo 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'". He also played in "One Mo' Time" in the 1970s.

Jabbo played in various cities around the US like 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.

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. But in 1975 he was honored at the NJF-NY hall of fame concert. In 1991 Jabbo passed away in St. Louis, Missouri.

Listening Room

Hear Jabbo with Charlie Johnson's Paradise Ten, "Charleston is Best Dance After All".

Hear Jabbo with his Rhythm Aces, "Jazz Battle"
Hear Jabbo singing "Till Times Get Better"
Hear Jabbo on Duke Ellington's
"Black and Tan Fantasy," November 1927.

Read more about Jabbo Smith in a personal interview


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