Isham Jones Biography

31 January 1894, Coalton, Ohio, USA, d. 19 October 1956, Hollywood, Florida, USA. A multi-instrumentalist, Jones was leading his own band by his late teens. He played mostly in the Chicago area until the early 20s, when he moved to New York. After a brief visit to the UK in 1924, he returned to form a new band, which by the end of the decade he had developed into an outstanding dance orchestra. The band enjoyed enormous popularity with audiences. A 1930 recording of Hoagy Carmichael’s ‘Star Dust’, arranged as a ballad, was a huge hit and changed perceptions of how this song might be performed. Arrangements were by Jones, together with Gordon Jenkins and Victor Young, and created a relaxed, melodic style unusual among bands of this type. Fine musicians who played in the band at one time or another included Jack Jenney and Pee Wee Erwin.

In 1936, with the swing era freshly launched and big bands fast becoming popular, Jones went against all logic and decided to fold his band. Some of the more jazz-orientated members decided to go ahead with their own outfit under the leadership of one of the saxophone players, Woody Herman. In the late 30s Jones concentrated on composing and arranging, but by the 40s he was working mostly outside music. A possibly apocryphal tale recounts that when his wife bought him a new piano for his 30th birthday, he was so worried at the expense she had incurred, he sat up all night at his birthday gift and by morning had composed three tunes to help restore the family fortunes: ‘It Had To Be You’, ‘Spain’ and ‘The One I Love Belongs To Somebody Else’.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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