Harold Jones was born February 27, 1940 in Richmond, Indiana, where he lived until 1958. Jones gives credit to his first teacher Jack Kurkowski, a vaudeville performer for teaching him to read music before he even owned a drum. He began drumming at 14 when he enrolled at summer music camp in his native Richmond,.
In Richmond High School he played in the orchestra, dance band, pep band, marching band, and concert band. In 1958, with the help of his teacher, Robert Carr, he won a scholarship to the American Conservatory of Music, Chicago, under the direction of James Dutton. During his studies he began playing night clubs, he was the drummer on Eddie Harris' "Exodus to Jazz", the first jazz LP to sell 1 million records.
But Harold Jones really blossomed with Count Basie. Basie had been through quite a few drummers since Sonny Payne left in 1965, but when Jones joined up in 1967, he proved to be just the drummer Basie was looking for. Jones remained until 1972, and through the course of his tenure with The Count, helped spark and revitalize that organization via now-legendary recordings of Sammy Nestico arrangements. Harold Jones is the quintessential big-band drummer with a crisp, clean sound notable for the high-pitched snare drum crack. He wastes no element of motion, has near-perfect time, sets up figures beautifully, is a driving accompanist, and plays wonderful fills only when necessary. It's no surprise that Jones later became the drummer of choice of famed singers Sarah Vaughan and later, Natalie Cole.
Born and raised in closeby Richmond, Indiana, Harold Jones is one of the legends of the straight ahead style of big band drumming. He worked and toured with the Count Basie Orchestra for five years, cutting no less than 15 albums in that timespan, and went on to work for ten years with Sarah Vaughn, touring the world, and playing the White House five times "because she was Nancy Reagan's favorite singer," according to press releases. Harold Jones was also the drummer on Natalie Cole's famous album, Unforgettable, and toured with the show.
The list of jazz performers with whom he has played is like a whos's who of the music business. Besides Basie, Mr. Jones has performed with Oscar Peter son, Duke Ellingon, Marlena Shaw, Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald, Bill Crosby, Nancy Wilson, Billy Eckstine, Carmen McRae, the Mills Brothers, Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra, Samy Davis Jr., the Harry James Orchestra, Benny Carter, Jimmy Smith, Johnny Griffin, Ira Sullivan, Donald Byrd, Herbie Hancock, James Moody, Benn Goodman, Joe Williams, Roger Williams, B.B. King, John Lee Hooker, Roosevelt Sykes, Ray Charles, and Kay Starr.
He has also recorded with Sammy Nestico, and is featured on the famous album, Warm Breeze.
In 2001 he was on the staff for the Henry Mancini Institute at the University of California in Los Angeles, and performed on Quincy Jones' new CD, "Count Basie and Beyond," and Robbie Williams' "Swing When You're Winning."
Currently Harold Jones leads drumming workshops at colleges and universities throughout the country. "I teach how to interpret music on drums," he says. He also fronts his own 17-piece big band, The Bossmen, playing for community events and corporate occasions. "I want to bring the Basie swing style back to the music world."