Born on January 3, 1931 in Chicago, alto saxophonist John Jenkins, was one of the up-and-coming local young voices of the exciting Chicago jazz scene of the mid-fifties. Like so many other alto players then, he was considerably influenced by Charlie Parker and, to an extent, by Jackie McLean and Sonny Stitt, yet he had many personal turns of his own within the idiom.
In 1955, he worked with Art Farmer, led his own group, and freelanced around Chicago. Jenkins attracted wider public attention in 1957 after moving to New York when he played briefly for Charles Mingus. It quickly led to calls for gigs and recording dates; in his first year in the Big Apple he led two albums of his own (on New Jazz and Blue Note); and co-lead on four albums, and on half a dozen more as a sideman with Donald Byrd, Hank Mobley, Paul Quinichette, Clifford Jordan, Sahib Shihab, and Wilbur Ware.