Reference Entry

Smith, Jabbo

Jack Sohmer

in American National Biography Online

Published in print January 1999 |
Published online February 2000 | e-ISBN: 9780198606697 | DOI:

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Smith, Jabbo (24 December 1908–16 January 1991), jazz trumpeter, trombonist, and singer, was born Cladys Smith in Pembroke, Georgia, and was given his unusual name to complement that of an infant cousin, Gladys. His father (name unknown) was a barber, and his mother, Ida (maiden name unknown), ultimately became a schoolteacher. After her husband’s death in 1912, Ida Smith moved to Savannah, Georgia, and in 1914 she placed Cladys in the Jenkins Orphanage Home in Charleston, South Carolina. After two years of musical tutelage, in 1918 he was assigned to play cornet in one of the orphanage’s several brass bands. In 1922, while touring with the band in Jacksonville, Cladys ran away and played for three months in Eagle Eye Shields’s jazz band before he was caught and returned to the orphanage. After a few more instances of rebelliousness, in 1924 Rev. Jenkins expelled him from the home. Smith moved to Philadelphia and worked in Harry Marsh’s band for three months, during which time his fellow bandsmen, amused by the name of an Indian character in a ...

Reference Entry.  1631 words. 

Subjects: Brass ; Blues ; Jazz

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