Harold Jones

Harold Jones performing at the White House
Harold Jones performing at the White House, November 19, 1962.

Harold Jones (born February 27, 1940) is an American traditional pop and jazz drummer who is best known as the drummer for Tony Bennett and for his five years with the Count Basie Orchestra.

In a career spanning six decades, Jones has toured and recorded with Frank Sinatra, Duke Ellington, Oscar Peterson, Herbie Hancock, B.B. King, and Ray Charles. He has also played with major symphony orchestras, including those in Boston, Atlanta, Chicago, London, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Vienna.

After leaving the Basie band, Jones was much in demand. He toured with Ella Fitzgerald, then for ten years with Sarah Vaughan. He also toured and recorded with Natalie Cole, including on her album Unforgettable… with Love. In 1962, he was a member of the Paul Winter Sextet, the first jazz group to play at the White House since the 1920s. The group had finished a tour of Latin America on behalf of United States Cultural Exchange Programs. Jones has played at the White House five times. Still a touring drummer, Jones also teaches drumming at college workshops.

Jazz Concert, November 19, 1962

A short (silent) film of drummer Harold Jones’ performance at the White House in 1962 with the Paul Winter Sextet — the first (ever!) performance of jazz music at the White House, by the invitation of Jaqueline Kennedy to share music with young children. What a historic event!

When Jazz Came to the White House

Fiftieth anniversary podcast from WNYC commemorating the event.

Jazz Premiere: Washington
The Paul Winter Sextet

The live recording from the White House performance