Goodbye, Elvin Jones

I was poring through eBay this morning, preparing today’s update, when my wife came into my office. “Did you see The Times?” she asked. “There’s an article that Coltrane’s drummer died.”

 It’s not surprising that The Times would refer to Elvin Jones as “Coltrane’s drummer.” That’s the way many of us came to find his music, on those great Atlantic and Impulse LPs of the early and mid 1960s. Jones’s contributions to Trane’s seminal quartet did more to influence the music than anything he might have accomplished before or since. Jones, McCoy Tyner, Jimmy Garrison – they all must have known at the time that Trane was taking them on explorations that were redefining the music.

 I turned to my record collection and searched for my favorite Elvin moments from that era. Two albums caught my eye: Africa/Brass, Impulse 6, about which, ironically, I wrote last week; and Coltrane Live at Birdland, Impulse 50. The live LP, particularly the track “Afro-Blue,” exemplifies the way in which Jones drove the quartet to places no other drummer of the era could have taken them. Here’s an excerpt from the original liner notes to this 1963 LP, courtesy of LeRoi Jones:

 “McCoy Tyner (is) driven, almost harassed, as Trane is too, by the mad ritual drama that Elvin Jones taunts them with. There is no way to ‘decribe’ Elvin’s playing, or, I would suppose, Elvin himself. The long tag of Afro-Blue, with Elvin thrashing and cursing beneath Trane’s line, is unbelievable. Beautiful has nothing to do with it, but it is. You feel when this is finished, amidst the crashing symbols, bombarded tomtoms, and above all Coltrane’s soprano singing like any song you can remember, that it really did not have to end at all, that this music could have gone on and on like the wild pulse of all living.”

 If you have the music, listen to it again. If not, get it. It’s powerful and innovative and timeless. We’ll write more about Elvin later in the week.

 Here are some interesting items that sold in the past couple of days:

 Louis Smith, Smithville, Blue Note 1594, in VG/VG+ condition. Price: $185.57

 Fats Navarro Memorial Album, Blue Note 5004, in M- condition. Price: $300

 Johnny Hodges, Collates #2, Clef 128, in M- condition. Price: $220

 The Dual Role of Bob Brookmeyer, Prestige 214, in M- condition. Price $150

 Here are a few interesting items that did not sell but might wind up back on eBay, based on the recent history of this dealer:

Gil Melle, Quintet/Sextet, Blue Note, 5020. Asking price: $200

The Amazing Bud Powell, Blue Note 5003. Asking Price: $250

Miles Davis, All Star Sextet, Prestige 182. Asking Price: $300

Kenny Dorham, Afro-Cuban, Blue Note 5065. Asking price: $475

That’s it for today. See you tomorrow on the Web and Friday with the newsletter. — al

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