May 19, 2004 by

Elvin Jones


Categories: Musicians

ejones.jpgElvin Ray Jones, a legendary jazz drummer known for his creative improvisations and explosive style, died on May 18 of heart failure. He was 76.
Born in Pontiac, Mich, Jones grew up in a musical family. The youngest of 10 children, his brother Hank became a professional jazz pianist, and his brother Thad, who died in 1986, became a successful trumpet and flugelhorn player. Elvin, however, was passionate about percussion and taught himself to play the drums when he was only 13.
After he was discharged from the Army, Jones followed his older brothers into the Detroit music scene. He moved to New York in 1956 and earned a reputation as a talented freelance drummer. From 1960 to 1966, Jones performed with the influential John Coltrane Quintet. He enhanced the ensemble’s unique sound on pivotal jazz albums like “A Love Supreme” and “Live at the Village Vanguard.”
During the course of his five-decade career, Jones performed on more than 500 recordings, and played with jazz greats like Duke Ellington, Miles Davis and Charlie Parker. He always jammed with smile, loudly banging on the drums in a unique, improvised style that gave his music a dense texture.
As the band leader of the constantly evolving Elvin Jones Jazz Machine, Jones played in venues all over the world. He was viewed by many music critics as one of the best drummers in jazz, and continued working until the very end of his life.
“Playing is not something I do at night,” he once said. “It’s my function in life.” Last month, Jones performed his final show at Yoshi’s jazz club in Oakland, Calif.
Listen to a Tribute From NPR

2 Responses to Elvin Jones

  1. td

    Elvin Jones, the ULTIMATE Jazz Machine will be missed. My sincere sympathy goes out to the Jones Family and his thousands (millions) of fans.
    I experienced his presence once in NYC @ Trinity Church (Wall Street) over 23 years ago. To this day, I still savor that experience.
    So long, dear friend – DEEP PEACE!

  2. ann dane

    I was lucky enough to be living in New York in the 60’s and heard Elvin many times at the old Five Spot and knew I was hearing something great. The only regret is that the United States, for the most part, blows off real jazz and the artists that create this music. At least it is appreciated in Europe.

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