Elvin Jones

Elvin Ray Jones, September 9, 1927 – May 18, 2004, was a jazz drummer. Elvin started playing professionally in the 1940s. He was part of the Army Special Services program Operation Happiness. In 1949, he had a brief gig at Detroit’s Grand River Street Club. He went on to perform with Miles Davis and Charlie Parker. After a failed audition for Benny Goodman’s band, he got work in New York and joined Charles Mingus’s band. He released a record called J is for Jazz. He joined the John Coltrane Quartet in 1960. It also included Jimmy Garrison as bassist and McCoy Tyner as pianist. Jones and Coltrane were often seen performing extended duets that allowed them to both give and take energy through their instruments. The band is widely believed to have redefined jazz’s “swing” (the rhythmic feeling of jazz), in the same manner that Charlie Parker, Louis Armstrong and Charlie Parker did at earlier stages of jazz’s evolution. He stayed with Coltrane through 1966. Jones wasn’t happy with Coltrane’s direction at that point. His polyrhythmic style was incompatible with Rashied Ali’s “multidirectional” approach. Jones joined Duke Ellington and formed his own touring band after leaving Coltrane’s group. Jazz Machine, a regular quintet, continued to follow the same musical path. His ability to read rhythms, dynamics and timing as well as his ability to produce a lot of sound, as well as his sense of timing, legato phrasing, polyrhythms and dynamics, brought the drumset into the forefront. Life Magazine called Jones the “world’s greatest rhythmic drummer”, and his free-flowing style had a significant influence on many of the top rock drummers such as Mitch Mitchell, who Jimi Hendrix called “my Elvin Jones”), and Ginger Baker. Text contributed by users is available under Creative Commons By–SA License. It may also be available under GNU FDL.

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