From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Jones, Robert E. "Jonah"

(born: 1908  -  died: 2000) 

Robert Elliot Jones was born in Louisville, KY, and raised in an orphanage. A jazz trumpeter, he played with the Cab Calloway Orchestra for 11 years, then went on to appear on television, make several albums, and win a Grammy Award in 1959 for Best Jazz Performance by a group. He was one of the all-time best trumpeters. Jones is also remembered for the spit ball incident that got Dizzy Gillespie fired. One day during practice, Jones threw a spit ball. Cab Calloway accused Dizzy Gillespie of the deed and slapped Gillespie. A scuffle ensued. When the two were pried apart, Calloway's pants were cut up and he had razor cuts on his hip and thigh. Gillespie was fired. Jonah Jones and the other orchestra members kept quiet. For more on Jonah Jones see Who's Who of Jazz, by J. Chilton; and Talking Jazz, by M. Jones. For more on the spit ball incident see Dizzy Gillespie, by T. Gentry, pp. 69-71.

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Jefferson County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Louisville, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Item Relations

Cited in this Entry

NKAA Source: Who's who of jazz: Storyville to Swing Street
NKAA Source: Talking jazz
NKAA Source: Dizzy Gillespie

Related Entries Citing this Entry

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Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Jones, Robert E. "Jonah",” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed July 21, 2024,

Last modified: 2017-09-29 21:33:52