- Jones, Elvin Ray
▪ 2005American musician (b. Sept. 9, 1927, Pontiac, Mich.—d. May 18, 2004, Englewood, N.J.), began a revolution in jazz drumming with his powerful playing in the John Coltrane Quartet during 1960–65 and then had a long career of leading combos, including the popular Elvin Jones Jazz Machine. Jones was from an outstanding musical family—his brother Hank was a top bop pianist, and his brother Thad was a distinguished cornetist-composer-bandleader. Jones grew up in Detroit, where he began playing in his teens; after performing in a U.S. Army band (1946–49), he played in the house band at a Detroit nightclub. His 1956 move to New York City launched him into national prominence, and he worked and recorded with Sonny Rollins, Miles Davis, and other major figures. The passion of Coltrane's tenor saxophone improvisations ignited Jones's equally passionate rhythmic explorations. Using an unusually resonant drum kit and blessed with a remarkably free sense of swing, he created rich textures and dense polyrhythms in interplay with Coltrane's intense explorations of harmonic extremes; though piano and bass were present, many of the group's performances were effectively tenor sax–drums duets. Jones's liberated accenting inspired later drummers to abandon their instruments' traditional timekeeping role altogether. After leaving Coltrane, Jones on his own became a top jazz-club and festival attraction by leading a series of small groups, featuring noted veteran saxophonists such as Sonny Fortune and Frank Foster and introducing new jazz stars, including trumpeter Nicholas Payton and saxophonist Ravi Coltrane.
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