Elvin Jones is an icon of American jazz and while many musicians’ biographies list the musical greats with whom they’ve performed, in the case of Mr. Jones it may be more appropriate to list those who’ve played with him. With beginnings as a school band rudimental drummer, he begin playing professionally in 1949 launching a storied career that would last into the 21st Century.
In 1960 he began a six year stint with influential saxophonist John Coltrane. His highly original, polyrhythmic drumming style was seen as the perfect foil for Coltrane’s complex harmonic explorations. In fact, some have directly compared Jones’ percussive style to Coltrane’s “sheets of sound” approach to soloing, as represented on the seminal recording, “Giant Steps.” Their work together culminated with the spiritually inspired, “A Love Supreme,” considered among the best jazz albums of all time.
As a group leader he recorded scores of albums and as member he’s appeared on more than a hundred more. He has performed with the likes of Charles Mingus, Teddy Charles, Bud Powell, Miles Davis, Pepper Adams, Donald Byrd, Sonny Stitt, Art Farmer, J.J. Johnson, John Coltrane, Jimmy Garrison, McCoy Tyner, Hank and Thad Jones, Wardell Gray, Kenny Burrell, Milt Jackson, Yusef Lateef, Wayne Shorter and many more.