hip hop music

May 19, 2004

Remembrance of ELVIN JONES, 1927-2004

One of the greatest of the greats passed on yesterday after a long illness. He deserves a better tribute than I'd be able to offer, so I reached out to one of his peers, my good friend and stepfather Warren Smith, a top jazz drummer in his own right and founding member of Max Roach's M'Boom. Warren offers his memories of Elvin:

ELVIN JONES, this name should always be capitalized when referred to in musical contexts.

I first met ELVIN in Chicago in 1959 while on tour with the West Side Story. ELVIN was playing at a local club "the Blue Note" (Chicago had one too) with the trumpet star Harry Sweets Edison. I had come to hear the organist Jimmy Smith and his drummer Donald Bailey. ELVIN caught me completely off guard. And he sat and talked with me late into the night. When he moved to New York in the next year or so we had a chance to hang quite few times. We found that we shared many common values apart from music. He spoke of his love for his brothers as I did for mine, and our common love of music and various drummers. Max Roach was equally held in esteem by us both. Then ELVIN came to sub for Charli Persip in the orchestra of Johnny Richards while I was playing Tympani. I discovered that ELVIN JONES was an excellent sight reader as well as a brilliant player. Then came the famous stint with the John Coltrane Quartet and ELVIN JONES was elevated to his present stature in Musical History. At this point he became for me the most influential percussionist in African-American Music. Even the brilliance of TONY WILLIAMS, the excellence of ROY HAYNES and all the great percussionists who preceded him to stardom failed to dim the beacon of light that ELVIN cast upon the field throughout the rest of his life.

It was painful to all of us drummers to read of his suffering thru a debilitating illness in various e-mails, and rumors of his ultimate demise. We could sense the inevitability of this occurrence, as we shall enter such a phase in our own lives eventually. But we all love and respect and admire ELVIN JONES and the gift he presented to us over the last 45 years of this great music misnamed "Jazz". ELVIN JONES was, is a great American artist and we shall never forget that fact.

Warren Smith

Just remember all caps when you spell the man's name...

Posted by jsmooth995 at May 19, 2004 7:26 PM

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