Papa Jo Jones

1911-1985

Jazz pioneer, Jonathan “Papa Jo” Jones is credited with helping create a playing style that would forever change the way the genre would be played.  Unlike power drummers such as Gene Krupa who used the bass drum to drive each beat, Jones would often omit bass drum playing altogether continuing an opening and closing ride rhythm on the hi-hat. He also influenced the modern jazz drummer's tendency to play timekeeping rhythms on a suspended cymbal that would become known as a ride cymbal.

 

His experience as a carnival drummer and tap dancer influenced his later brush techniques that simulated the sweeping sounds of dancers who would drag their feet over sand-covered platforms.  Jones would go on to work with jazz legends such as Count Basie, Art Blakey, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Coleman Hawkins, Woody Herman, Oscar Peterson, Charles Mingus, Roy Eldridge, Billy Holiday and more.  He was also one of the first drummers to promote the use of brushes on drums and had a major influence on later drummers such as Buddy Rich, Kenny Clarke, Roy Haynes, Max Roach, and Louie Bellson.

 

Jones played with Count Basie's Kansas City band from 1934 to1948. In fact, Basie once remarked, “You may think you’re the boss, but the drummer is really the head man.” 

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