Hailed a one of the original trumpet kings, Cladys Smith was born in Pembroke, GA on December 24, 1908. He was sent to the Jenkins Orphanage by his mother Ida Smith when he was six year old. Jabbo began playing the cornet at age eight and began touring with the Jenkins Band at age ten. During his stay at the orphanage Jabbo constantly ran away and in 1925, at age 17 he left for good in order to play professionally with Harry Marsh in Philadelphia.
During the 1920s and 1930s, Jabbo was seen as a rival to Louis Armstrong. Jabbo played in New York for a while with such bands as the Charlie Johnson Band, Sidney Bechet and the James P. Johnson Orchestra where he was a part of the movie Keep Shufflin'.
Jabbo played in various cities around the states, as in Florida with Eagle Eye Shields Band as well as Chicago with Carol Dickerson, Erskine Tate, Charlie Elgar and Tiny Parham. In November of 1927 Jabbo recorded with Duke Ellington on a piece entitled Black and Tan Fantasy. Jabbo's recording debut with his own band the Rhythm Aces was in 1929 for the Brunswick label where he cut around 19 sides.
After playing with Claude Hopkins for two years in Milwaukee, Jabbo finally settled there in the 1940s. After this move Jabbo wasn't heard from as much and slowly faded out of the music business. He did attempt a brief comeback in the ‘60’s and then re-surfaced and played in One Mo' Time in the 1970s