Elvin Jones

"His main achievement was the creation of what might be called a circle of sound, a continuum in which no beat of the bar was necessarily indicated by any specific accent, yet the overall feeling became a tremendously dynamic and rhythmically important part of the whole group. Jones moved away from the old concept of swinging toward a newer freedom..."
-Leonard Feather in the Encyclopedia of Jazz

The Basics: Jones was a driven musician at an early age; he was practicing 8-10 hours a day by the time he was 13. "I made up my mind when I was 13," recalls Jones, "that I wouldn't be a doctor or a fireman, I would be a drummer." Fully supported by his mother, and brothers who also played instruments, Jones continued practicing and listening to prominent and gifted musicians of the time, like Max Roach, Art Blakely and Dave Tough. Jones' determination to live solely from his musical skills led him to Detroit, where he played at various local clubs. A botched audition left him in New York where he had the opportunity to play in Charlie Mingus' band. During the 1950s he also played with Bud Powell, Miles Davis and Art Farmer. Jones joined Tyner and Coltrane in 1960.

If there is anything like perfect harmony in a human relationship that was as close as you can come...
It was one of the happiest periods of my life, the best of all possible situations I could have been in to do the things that I felt were conducive to my development...
That group and that situation were ideal...
-Elvin Jones, about the quartet

Elvin Jones photo, courtesy of Bernhard Castiglioni at DrummerWorld.