Jones, Isham, noted jazz band leader, composer; b. Coalton, Iowa, Jan. 31, 1894; d. Fla., Oct. 19, 1956. Raised in Saginaw, Mich. He led his own band at age 18, moved to Chicago in 1915, and concentrated on tenor saxophone. He then led his own trio at Mahoney’s Club, and then later led an orchestra at Green Mill and Rainbow Gardens. Subsequently, his orchestra played a long residency at the Hotel Sherman from the early 1920s. He appeared in N.Y. before sailing to London in 1924.
Jones returned to the U.S. and established a national reputation. From 1926 until 1936, his orchestras enjoyed widespread popularity. His last band, Isham Jones’s Juniors, contained the basic personnel for the orchestra formed by his sideperson Woody Herman. The Juniors broke up in 1936, and Jones decided to devote more time to composing. Until 1939, he assembled several temporary bands and occasionally fronted other bands.
Throughout the 1940s he ran his own general store in Colo., then moved to Fla. in 1955, where he died of cancer a year later. Jones was a prolific composer whose successes included: “Spain,” “On the Alamo,” “I’ll See You in My Dreams,”and “It Had to Be You.”
—John Chilton Who’s Who of Jazz/Lewis Porter