John Jenkins is from Chicago where he was born on January 3, 1931 and has been another pupil of the famous Capt. Walter Dyett of Du Sable High. Johnny Griffin, Clifford Jordan and John Gilmore were among his schoolmates. Jenkins began on clarinet and six month later switched to alto. His baptism of fire came in 1949 at the Roosevelt College sessions promoted by Joe Segal and he continued to play at these swinging affairs during his next seven years in Chicago. He also played at local clubs like the Bee Hive. In 1955, John did a week apiece in Chicago and Cleveland with Art Farmer when Gigi Gryce was unable to be present
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