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Elvin Jones

 

 

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Elvin Jones is one of the most influential drummers of the last 40 years.   He was born in Pontiac Michigan in 1927 and had two brothers, Thad and Hank, who were also jazz musicians.  He developed an original style based on parts of bebop, but he used advanced, complex polyrhythms (playing different rhythms with each hand and foot). 

After a stint in the army from 1946-49, he moved to Detroit and was part of the jazz scene before moving to New York in 1955.   He worked with Teddy Charles and the Bud Powell trio and recorded with many players, such as Miles Davis, Donald Byrd, and Sonny Rollins (at his famous Village Vanguard session!)

He became famous playing in John Coltrane's quartet from 1959-65.  He had a hard driving sound that was very loud and he had great stamina.  This, along with the foundation of complex polyrhythms he laid down fueled some of Coltrane's greatest solos, as Coltrane would routinely play 30-45+ minute solos with sometimes only he and Jones playing.

When Coltrane started moving toward free jazz, he brought in Rashied Ali and attempted to use two drummers.  Jones didn't care for this, and left Coltrane's group over artistic differences, and joined, surprisingly, Duke Ellington's big band.  However, Ellington also tried a two-drummer set, and Jones left that group after a brief stay.   Since then, he has successfully taken small groups, called Elvin Jones' Jazz Machine, on the road.


To learn more about Elvin Jones, check out these sites:

Elvin Jones - A Duke University jazz history student's page.
Elvin Jones - From Europe Jazz Network.

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