Elvin Jones: Making the Jazz Drums Artistic & Cool

Elvin Jones playing the drums
Drum!

As we’re so often in a drumming mood, we’re moving Mr. Elvin Jones forward in this week’s posting schedule. As we love his jazzy drumming chops. 

A Bit About Elvin Jones

Elvin Jones (1927-2004) was part of the post-bop era. Translation: he was a jazz drummer extraordinaire. Along the lines of Art Blakey and Jo Jones

But in his early 20s, he served in the US Army—just after WWII. 

But moved to New York in 1955. During the years after that he was something of a sideman to the likes of Miles Davis. 

And by 1960 he was part of the John Coltrane quartet, which is a major part of jazz history. The fact he was involved in it shows off what Jones was capable of.

Interestingly, he described that he saw colour images whilst drumming. And that makes us think of the brilliant Wassily Kandinsky (On White II) who had this condition—synesthesia. 

He was also happy to pass along his drumming techniques.

This is now common with modern drummers, the YouTube channel Drummeo promotes top drummers to contribute their knowledge. 

From our experience, the reality is you have it or you don’t. And the top drummers who tour and gig (unless you get lucky) won’t have the abilities to reach top levels. 

So you just drum for fun and try and improve your skills. 

And Jones’ standing in the jazz world was obvious when he went up against the one and only drumming heroin lunatic Ginger Baker

Thanks to Buddy Rich, jazz drummers have a reputation for being “proper” drummers. This seemed to come about in reaction to the likes of rock and heavy metal drumming. 

So to get his name about (or further his ego), Baker went up against jazz drummer legends like Elvin Jones.

Ultimately, Elvin Jones may not have the star power name of big name rock or jazz drummers. But he was there. And he was cool. 

He was full of swing. Not in the loose sense of Rich or even Baker, but he was precise and impeccable with his timing. 

As we’ve said on other drumming posts—the best drummers make it look easy. It isn’t. It’s bloody tough. But great fun too. Thanks, Mr. Jones. 

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