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"Philly" Joe Jones



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Joseph Rudolph "Philly Joe" Jones was born in Philadelphia (fancy that!) in 1925.  He started off playing in a blues band, but grew bored with it and moved back to Philadelphia and played with Fats Navarro and Dexter Gordon.   After serving in the army, he moved to New York in 1947 and become the house drummer at Cafe Society and played with the likes of Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker.  He took the name "Philly" to distinguish himself from Jo Jones, the legendary drummer from the Count Basie Orchestra.  Like Jo, who blazed the trails for the rhythm section of the Thirties, Philly Joe did the same in the Fifties.

After working with various musicians, including Ben Webster and Lionel Hampton, he became the drummer for Miles Davis' first classic quintet, which included John Coltrane, Paul Chambers, and Red Garland.  Some critics complained about Jones' drumming, saying it was too loud.  However, Miles knew what he wanted, and that was a drummer who drove the group, and eventually the critics saw what Miles did.  Jones was one of the greatest drummers of snare-drum technique, and based his solos around that particular piece.  He perfected a rim shot that he performed following one of the others' solos and many other drummers started copying the "Philly Joe move."  Jones' drug habit grated Miles the wrong way and after continued money and drug problems, Davis fired Jones (and Coltrane).

Jones went on to form his own group in the late Fifties and played accompaniment on many other records, such as Art Pepper meets the rhythm section and Coltrane's Blue Train.  In the Sixties he fell out of the spotlight, as Tony Williams and Elvin Jones became the star drummers.  He lived in England and France from 1967-72 and taught the local talent.

He returned to the states and worked regularly in Philadelphia, leading the fusion group Le Grand Prix, working with Bill Evans, and releasing an album in the late Seventies.   In 1981, he formed Dameronia, a group dedicated to playing Tadd Dameron's compositions.     

Philly Joe Jones died in 1985.

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