ISHAM JONES (1894 - 1956)
Isham Jones became a prolific songwriter but not until his orchestra was already established as one of the most popular dance bands of the ’20s and early ’30s. Although his band sometimes played music in the “jazz” style, it was generally known for its “sweet” music. Jones hired the best musicians. His band at times featured Pee Wee Erwin, Jack Jenny, Woody Herman, and arranger Gordon Jenkins.
The band’s initial success was in Chicago where they recorded exclusively and frequently for the Brunswick label over a ten-year period. Their first hit was “Wabash Blues” in 1921, the same year that they appeared in Ziegfeld’s Midnight Frolic. They toured in the U.S. and England in 1924, settling in New York the following year. Isham apparently had an ear for great songs and was responsible for introducing and recording many tunes that were to become standards.
As a composer Jones wrote his first hit, “On the Alamo,” in 1922 with Gilbert Keyes and Joe Lyons. Then followed a long list of successes with Gus Kahn: “Broken Hearted Melody”(1922), “Swingin’ Down the Lane” (1923), “I’ll See You in My Dreams,” “The One I Love Belongs to Somebody Else,” and “It Had to Be You” (1924). He also wrote “Indiana Moon” with Benny Davis (1923), “You’ve Got Me Crying Again” with Charles Newman (1933), and “(There Is) No Greater Love” (1936) with Marty Symes.
When Jones retired in 1936, the band decided to stay together under the direction of its vocalist/saxophonist Woody Herman, eventually becoming known in 1943 as Herman’s Herd. Jones came out of retirement in the ’40s but never regained the success he had had with earlier bands.
-- Sandra Burlingame
Courtesy of JazzStandards.com