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Elvin Ray Jones (September 9, 1927 – May 18, 2004) was a jazz drummer of the post-bop era. He showed interest in drums at a young age, watching the circus bands march by his family's home in Pontiac, Michiganmarker.

He served in the United States Army from 1946 to 1949 and subsequently played in a Detroitmarker houseband led by Billy Mitchell. He moved to New Yorkmarker in 1955 and worked as a sideman for Charles Mingus, Teddy Charles, Bud Powell and Miles Davis.

From 1960 to 1966 he was a member of the John Coltrane quartet, a celebrated recording phase, appearing on such albums as A Love Supreme. Following his work with John Coltrane, Jones led several small groups, some under the name The Elvin Jones Jazz Machine. He recorded with both of his brothers during his career, jazz musicians Hank Jones and Thad Jones.

Biography

Early life

Elvin Jones was born in Pontiac, Michiganmarker. By age two he said he knew he held a fascination for drums. He would watch the circus marching band parades go by his home as a boy, particularly fascinated by the drummers (sometimes wandering off for miles after the parade). Following his early passion, Elvin joined his high school's black marching band, where he developed his foundation in rudiments. Jones began service in the United States Army in 1946. He was discharged in 1949, and returned home penniless. Jones said he borrowed thirty-five dollars from his sister when he got back to buy his first drumset.

Elvin began his professional career in 1949 with a short-lived gig in Detroitmarker's Grand River Street club. Eventually he went on to play with artists such as Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, and Wardell Gray. In 1955, after a failed audition for the Benny Goodman band, he found work in New Yorkmarker, joining Charles Mingus's band, and releasing a record called J is for Jazz.

1960-1966: John Coltrane and Beyond

In 1960, he joined with the classic John Coltrane Quartet, which also included bassist Jimmy Garrison and pianist McCoy Tyner. Jones and Coltrane often played extended duet passages, both giving and taking energy through their instruments. This band is widely considered to have redefined "swing" (the rhythmic feel of jazz) in much the same way that Louis Armstrong, Charlie Parker, and others did during earlier stages of jazz's development. He stayed with Coltrane until 1966. By that time, Jones was not entirely comfortable with Coltrane's new direction and his polyrhythmic style clashed with the "multidirectional" approach of the group's second drummer, Rashied Ali.

Jones remained active after leaving the John Coltrane group, and led several bands in the late sixties and seventies that are considered highly influential groups. Notable among them was a trio formed with saxophonist and multi-instrumentalist Joe Farrell and (ex-Coltrane) bassist Jimmy Garrison, with whom he recorded the Blue Note album Puttin' It Together. Jones recorded extensively for Blue Note under his own name in the late sixties and early seventies, with groups that featured prominent as well as up and coming greats. The two volume Live at The Lighthouse showcases a 21- and 26-year-old Steve Grossman and Dave Liebman, respectively. Other musicians of note who made significant contributions to Elvin's music during this period were baritone saxophonist Pepper Adams, tenor saxophonists George Coleman and Frank Foster, trumpeter Lee Morgan, bassist Gene Perla, keyboardist Jan Hammer and Jazz - World Music group Oregon.

Late career

Elvin Jones' sense of timing, polyrhythms, dynamics, timbre, and legato phrasing brought the drumset to the foreground. Jones was touted by Life Magazine as "the world's greatest rhythmic drummer", and his free-flowing style was a major influence on many leading rock drummers, including Mitch Mitchell (whom Jimi Hendrix called "my Elvin Jones") and Ginger Baker. He appeared as the villain Job Cain in the 1971 off-beat Western film Zachariah, in which he performed a drum solo after winning a saloon gunfight. In 1999, Jones worked with Our Lady Peace on their album Happiness...Is Not a Fish That You Can Catch. He was featured playing drums on the song "Stealing Babies", which was also featured on their 2009 compilation album The Very Best of Our Lady Peace.

Jones performed and recorded with his own group, the Elvin Jones Jazz Machine, whose line up changed through the years. Sonny Fortune and Ravi Coltrane, John Coltrane's son, both played saxophone with the Jazz Machine in the early 1990s, appearing together with Jones on In Europe on Enja Records in 1991. Jones, who taught regularly, often took part in clinics, played in schools, and gave free concerts in prisons. His lessons emphasized music history as well as drumming technique.

Death

Elvin Jones died of heart failure in Englewood, New Jerseymarker on May 18, 2004. He is survived by his first wife Shirley and his second, albeit common-law, wife Keiko (Elvin married Keiko before divorcing Shirley, meaning that legally he and Keiko were not married). Elvin Jones is survived by his son Elvin Nathan Jones of California and daughter Rose-Marie From of Sweden.

Discography

As leader

Year Album Personnel Label
1961 Together! Philly Joe Jones, Blue Mitchell, Curtis Fuller, Hank Mobley, Wynton Kelly, Paul Chambers Atlantic Records
1961 Elvin Jones & Company Thad Jones, Frank Foster Riverside Records
1961 Elvin! Frank Wess, Frank Foster, Art Davis, Hank Jones, Thad Jones Riverside
1963 Illumination Jimmy Garrison, Prince Lasha, Sonny Simmons, Charles Davis, McCoy Tyner Impulse!
1965 And Then Again J.J. Johnson, Frank Wess, Charles Davis, Don Friedman, Paul Chambers, Thad Jones, Hank Jones, Art Davis Atlantic Records
1965 Dear John C. Richard Davis, Hank Jones, Roland Hanna, Charlie Mariano Impulse!
1966 Midnight Walk Thad Jones, Hank Mobley, Dollar Brand, Steve James, Don Moore Atlantic Records
1967 Heavy Sounds Richard Davis, Frank Foster, Billy Greene Impulse!
1968 Puttin' It Together Joe Farrell, Jimmy Garrison Blue Note Records
1968 The Ultimate Jimmy Garrison, Duke Pearson, Joe Farrell Blue Note
1968 Live at the Village Vanguard Wilbur Little, George Coleman, Marvin Peterson Enja
1969 Polycurrents George Coleman, Joe Farrell, Pepper Adams, Wilbur Little, Candido, Fred Tompkins Blue Note

1970 Coalition George Coleman, Frank Foster, Wilbur Little, Candido, Blue Note

1971 Genesis Gene Perla, Frank Foster, Dave Liebman, Joe Farrell Blue Note
1972 Live at the Lighthouse Dave Liebman, Steve Grossman, Gene Perla Blue Note
1973 At This Point In Time Steve Grossman, Pepper Adams, Jan Hammer Blue Note
1973 The Prime Element George Coleman, Joe Farrell, Lee Morgan, Pepper Adams, Steve Grossman, Frank Foster Blue Note
1975 Mr. Thunder Steve Grossman, Roland Prince, Milton Suggs, Luis Agudo, Sjunne Ferger East West Records
1975 On the Mountain Jan Hammer, Gene Perla PM
1976 The Main Force Ryo Kawasaki, Al Dailey, Dave Liebman Vanguard Records
1976 Merry Go Round David Liebman, Steve Grossman, Joe Farrell, Chick Corea, Jan Hammer, Don Alias, Gene Perla Blue Note
1978 Remeberance Pat LaBarbera, Michael Stuart, Roland Prince MPS Records
1982 Love & Peace McCoy Tyner, Pharoah Sanders, Jean-Paul Bourelly, Richard Davis Trio (Japan)
1982 Brother John Kenny Kirkland, Reggie Workman,Pat LaBarbera Quicksilver Records
1991 In Europe Sonny Fortune, Ravi Coltrane, Willie Pickens, Chip Jackson Enja Records
1991 Vol pour Sidney (Aller) - one track Michel Doneda nato Records
1992 Youngblood Joshua Redman, Javon Jackson, Nicholas Payton, George Mraz Enja Records
1993 It Don't Mean a Thing Nicholas Payton, Sonny Fortune, Delfeayo Marsalis, Willie Pickens, Cecil McBee, Kevin Mahogany Enja Records
1993 When I Was at Aso-Mountain Sonny Fortune, Takehisa Tanaka, Cecil McBee Enja Records
1993 Going Home Willie Pickens, Ravi Coltrane, Kent Jordan, Brad Jones, Nicholas Payton Enja Records
1999 The Truth Darren Barrett, Robin Eubanks, Carlos McKinney, Michael Brecker Half Note


As sideman



Year Album Leader Label
1948 Swing...Not Spring! Billy Mitchell Savoy Records
1955 Blue Moods Miles Davis Prestige Records
1956 Farmer's Market Art Farmer New Jazz
1957 Paul Chambers Quintet Paul Chambers Blue Note
1957 Night at the Village Vanguard Sonny Rollins Blue Note
1957 Blue Moods Kenny Burrell Prestige (7088)
1958 Reflections Steve Lacy New Jazz (8206)
1959 All the Gin Is Gone Jimmy Forrest Delmark
1959 Black Forrest Jimmy Forrest Delmark
1959 Sketches of Spain Miles Davis Columbia
1960 Coltrane Plays the Blues John Coltrane Atlantic
1960 Coltrane's Sound John Coltrane Atlantic
1960 My Favorite Things John Coltrane Atlantic
1961 Coltrane Jazz (only on 1 track) John Coltrane Atlantic
1961 Africa/Brass John Coltrane Impulse!
1961 Live! at the Village Vanguard John Coltrane Impulse!
1961 Into Something Yusef Lateef New Jazz
1961 Motion Lee Konitz Verve
1962 Ready for Freddie Freddie Hubbard Blue Note
1962 Ballads John Coltrane Impulse!
1962 Coltrane John Coltrane Impulse!
1962 Inception McCoy Tyner Impulse!
1963 Today and Tomorrow McCoy Tyner Impulse!
1963 Impressions John Coltrane Impulse!
1963 John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman John Coltrane Impulse!
1963 Live at Birdland John Coltrane Impulse!
1964 Crescent John Coltrane Impulse!
1964 A Love Supreme John Coltrane Impulse!
1964 Judgment! Andrew Hill Blue Note
1964 Stan Getz and Bill Evans Stan Getz, Bill Evans Verve
1964 Bob Brookmeyer and Friends Bob Brookmeyer Verve
1964 Night Dreamer Wayne Shorter Blue Note
1964 JuJu Wayne Shorter Blue Note
1964 Speak No Evil Wayne Shorter Blue Note
1964 McCoy Tyner Plays Ellington McCoy Tyner Impulse!
1964 Matador Grant Green Blue Note
1964 Street of Dreams Grant Green Blue Note
1964 Solid Grant Green Blue Note
1964 Talkin' About! Grant Green Blue Note
1964 In 'N Out Joe Henderson Blue Note
1964 Inner Urge Joe Henderson Blue Note
1964 Into Somethin' Larry Young Blue Note
1964 The Individualism of Gil Evans Gil Evans Verve
1965 Unity Larry Young Blue Note
1965 Rip, Rig and Panic Roland Kirk Limelight
1965 I Want to Hold Your Hand Grant Green Blue Note
1965 The John Coltrane Quartet Plays John Coltrane Impulse!
1965 Om John Coltrane Impulse!
1965 New Thing at Newport John Coltrane Impulse!
1965 Gleanings John Coltrane Impulse!
1965 Transition John Coltrane Impulse!
1965 First Meditations John Coltrane Impulse!
1965 Living Space John Coltrane Impulse!
1965 Sun Ship John Coltrane Impulse!
1965 Meditations John Coltrane Impulse!
1965 Kulu Sé Mama John Coltrane Impulse!
1965 Live at the Half Note: One Down, One Up John Coltrane Impulse!
1966 Live In Seattle John Coltrane Impulse!
1966 East Broadway Run Down Sonny Rollins Impulse!
1966 Blue Spirits Freddie Hubbard Blue Note
1967 The Lee Konitz Duets Lee Konitz Milestone
1967 The Real McCoy McCoy Tyner Blue Note
1968 Love Call Ornette Coleman Blue Note
1970 Extensions McCoy Tyner Blue Note
1971 Outback Joe Farrell CTI
1975 Trident McCoy Tyner Milestone
1976 Together Oregon Vanguard
1977 Something For Lester Ray Brown OJC
1987 But Beautiful Lew Soloff King Records
1990 Special Quartet David Murray DIW/Columbia
1991 Ask the Ages Sonny Sharrock Axiom Records
1995 After the Rain John McLaughlin Verve
1999 Jones for Elvin - Volumes 1 and 2 Steve Griggs Hip City Music
2001 With Dave Holland and Elvin Jones Bill Frisell Nonesuch


Filmography

  • 1979 A Different Drummer (Rhapsody)
  • 1996 Elvin Jones: Jazz Machine (VIEW)
  • 1971 Zachariah MGM DVD


References

  1. Allmusic Biography
  2. http://www.jazzdisco.org/ornette-coleman/discography/
  3. AMG
  4. VIEW DVD Listing


External links




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