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Elvin is dead


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- Thad told me this many years ago and it got to me when he said it. He probably doesn't even remember saying it to me. He just said, 'Whenever you play, imagine that it's the very last chance or opportunity you'll ever have.' So just that thought is enough incentive to at least not be wishy-washy or do something insignificant. At least it will bring out whatever honesty is in you to be applied to your instrument at that time. That's the only philosophy I know -- just to do the very best you can at all times. (Down Beat Oct 2 69 p12)

- You always hope that the listener will hear what you are doing. If they hear what you are doing, then they also hear what you feel. If these two things exist ... the insight that occurs when one human being meets another would be realized, and they would come back from the experience more enlightened, a better person, perhaps, or have more tolerance to whatever goes on and exists around them. I don't think that you can force anything on the listener. (DownBeat, November 1997)

- It's the honesty you apply to your playing that makes music enjoyable. The style of the music has little to do with it. It's only honesty makes it beautiful. (Melody Maker Dec 19 72 p16)

RIP Elvin :(

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Guest Chaney

I like this from the 1974 James Isaacs penned liner notes to the 2 LP set, Elvin Jones: The Impulse Years:

In 1969, Elvin's candor set off a small brouhaha between himself and Ginger Baker, then drummer for the rock "super group" Cream.  Played a Baker drum extravaganza in a Down Beat "Blindfold Test", Jones blithely suggested that Ginger might do well to "lose his ass in space" since there was "nothing happening" in his musical undertakings.

Rock cognoscenti around the world, not to mention Baker himself, were chagrined and the heartbeat of Cream challenged Elvin to a drum battle in London, Baker's home turf.  Ginger was armed with his umpteen drums and cymbals arsenal while Elvin brought only the standard four-piece kit plus cymbals.  Observers maintain that the confrontation was a stalemate but, having heard both men extensively, I tend to doubt it.

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R.I.P. This is the end of an era in jazz drumming.

That story about Ginger Baker is pretty incredible. It amazes me that ANYONE would have the nerve to summon Elvin Jones to his home turf for a drum battle, let alone Ginger Baker.

Those who judged it to be a draw were probably also suffereing from the ass-lost-in-space syndrome.

Edited by John L
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Jazz Drummer Elvin Ray Jones Dies at 76

May 19, 12:07 AM (ET)

NEW YORK (AP) - Elvin Ray Jones, a renowned jazz drummer and member of

John Coltrane's quartet who also played alongside Duke Ellington,

Charlie Parker and Miles Davis, died Tuesday. He was 76. Jones died of

heart failure in an Englewood, N.J., hospital, said his wife of 38

years, Keiko Jones.

"He's happy. No more suffering," said Keiko Jones. "He's been fighting

for so long."

Jones, called by Life magazine "the world's greatest rhythmic drummer,"

was born in Pontiac, Mich., one of ten children. He had two musician

brothers: Hank, a jazz pianist, and Thad, a trumpet and flugelhorn player.

Jones entered the Detroit jazz scene in the late 1940s after touring as

a stagehand with the Army Special Services show Operation Happiness.

After a brief gig at the Detroit club Grand River Street, he went to

work at another club, backing up such jazz greats as Parker, Davis and

Wardell Grey.

Jones came to New York in 1955 for an unsuccessful audition for the

Benny Goodman band but stayed in the city, joining Charlie Mingus' band

and making a record called "J is Jazz." In 1960, he became a member of

John Coltrane's quartet.

Jones, with his rhythmic, innovative style, became one of jazz's most

famous drummers under Coltrane. He can be heard on Coltrane's "A love

Supreme" and "Coltrane Live at the Village Vanguard."

After leaving the Coltrane quartet, Jones briefly played with Duke

Ellington and formed the Elvin Jones' Jazz Machine. He put out several

solo albums and continued to tour, including last month in Oakland,

Calif., Keiko Jones said.

Besides his wife, Jones is survived by a son and a daughter.

--

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Elvin's passing feels a lot more personal to me than other, recent deaths of jazz greats. I've been listening to jazz only for about 6-7 years now, and Elvin Jones has been with me on much of that journey. He appears on some of my favorite albums:

Andrew Hill - Judgment

Grant Green - Street of Dreams

Larry Young - Unity

I've also been listening to his own "Poly-currents" and "The Ultimate Elvin Jones" albums a lot in the last few months. I love Elvin's playing because not only did he keep time, but he was also a driving force in the music...and more so than most other drummers, he strikes me as having been an integral part of whatever band he played in. Elvin's creativity and love for the music will keep me smiling for many years to come. Thank you for the music, Elvin. :)

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Not to discount Elvin's impact on the Classic Coltrane Quartet. Elvin's work with Coltrane is a given. Three of my favorite titles, which would have not been the same without Elvin:

  • McCoy Tyner - The Real McCoy
  • Wayne Shorter - Speak No Evil
  • Freddie Hubbard - Ready For Freddie

Elvin did so much more than simply 'play' the drums.

Edited by wesbed
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RIP Elvin. His influence is so great on a lot of drummers, even listening to guys like Erskine and DeJohnette recently, his presence is felt definitely. I watched a webcast 5-6 years ago of the Jazz Machine at the Blue Note w/ Michael Brecker guesting, and on one tune Elvin took an incredible 15 minute solo with mallets. This past semester got a suitemate of mine turned on to Elvin after showing him his influence in John Bonham.

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It felt like a perfect blend, a joy.  It was always a joy to play, in a recording studio or a nightclub.  It was the same feeling, in front of a large audience or no one at all.  Music was our sole purpose.

elvin jones on the classic quartet

r.i.p. elvin.

"a love supreme" was the first jazz cd i ever bought.

i decided to "investigate" jazz in 1988.

i walked down the isle and couldn't decide which one to buy.

it was very imposing.

i don't know how i decided on "a love supreme," but thank god i did.

i've been listening to elvin as long as i've been listening to jazz.

lately i've been spinning "youngblood" almost exclusively.

today will be no different (and yet it will be very different).

Edited by kulu se mama
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