Leonard E. Jones, born 1943 in Chicago, Illinois grew up in a rich musical environment on the near westside of the city that has had a everlasting impression on his life. His family lived above Vi´s Lounge where many blues artist such as Muddy Waters, Howlin´Wolf and Willie Dixon, Bo Diddley, etc., regularly appeared in the 1950´s. The famous *Zanzibar Lounge was located in the neighborhood just two blocks away. At seventeen Jones volunteered for the U.S. Army and after being stationed in Bad Kreuznach, Germany, he purchased his first double bass and received rudimentary instruction from a bassist in the army band that was also on the same barracks.
After being discharged from the military in 1963, Jones returned to Chicago. He began studying the bass privately with Mr. Rudolph Fahsbender, bassist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. In 1964, through an introduction from the bassist Charles Clark, he met Muhal Richard Abrams. Mr. Abrams was the leader of the Experimental Band, a forum for musicians looking for an environment conducive to their own creative inclinations. He was invited to participate in the groups rehearsals and began, as well, theoretical studies with Mr. Abrams. The Experimental Band rehearsals were a vital learning experience for a young novice.
In May 1965, the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) was founded and Jones became a member in June. During that same year he began an association with the bassist Wilbur Ware, which was rewarding musically, but more so on a human level. Mr. Ware was an exceptional person. Jones attended the Chicago Conservatory of Music for one year, still under the tutoring of Mr. Fahsbender. He also participated in David Beth´s bass school, bassist with the Grant Park Symphony Orchestra. His activities until leaving Chicago centered around AACM functions and playing in more standard situations.