Remembering Elvin Jones
Today we turn things over to some readers. The death of Elvin Jones inspired a couple of people to write: “The loss of Elvin Jones is indeed a blow to the jazz world. I feel lucky to have seen him for the first time in Minneapolis last fall. I was downtown and, to my surprise, The Dakota, formerly a St. Paul jazz club, had opened a club right on Nicollet Mall, just a few blocks from my hotel. I thought they were expanding. As it turned out, they had moved their location. To my surprise, the Grand Opening act was Elvin Jones and The Jazz Machine. Being a swing drummer, Elvin was not at the top of my list of influences, but I knew enough to know that if I ever wanted to see him, this was the time. So I showed up for the later (9:30-don’t forget this is Minneapolis!) show, which was sold out. We were told we could hang around and wait for cancellations or no-shows, and I almost left, but I hung in there. At the last minute, they said they had obstructed-view seating upstairs (around the perimeter of the room) and we could have them for half price. So the five or so hangers-on, all unaccompanied males and, I would bet the price of admission, all drummers, went in! Thank God! We were all mesmerized shortly into the show. I couldn’t follow his time to save my soul, but he was always exactly where he needed to be. The complexity of his varied rhythms stymied all of us, and his straight-ahead brushwork on What A Wonderful World (the one popularized by Louis Armstrong) brought tears to my eyes. Here was one of God’s special gifts to jazz drums right down on the bandstand. When it came time for an encore, someone up in the mezzanine yelled out a number from the Coltrane quartet days and I thought, Oh, no. But to my surprise, Elvin made an excuse about the band not knowing that stuff and beat out an intro to It Don’t Mean A Thing. Was that for me??? I loved every second of the 75-minute set they played and added Elvin’s name to my list of heroes that starts with Gene Krupa! God bless Elvin Jones.” — Edward Petrella, Chicago
I would like to enter the contest for the Coltrane LP. When I met my wife, she had poor music tastes. I turned her on to John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman, A Love Supreme, etc. To make a long story short, I have a 16-month old son – Cole Trane Wellborn.” — Wade Wellborn, Fairhope, Ala.
“It’s hard to say what any ONE album could have changed my life. Even at the age of five, it was only certain albums that caught my interest – and they would be jazz. One of the first ones would have been Roland Kirk’s We Free Kings. The second was Herbie Mann at the Village Gate. Time passed and as I got older and moved into my first real place I bought two Shirley Scott LPs and had cocktails with friends listening to “On a Clear Day You Can See Forever” and “Latin Shadows.” Housewarming gifts included albums by Hampton Hawes, Shelly Manne and Cal Tjader, not to mention Howard Rumsey and the Lighthouse All Stars. I do have a collection large enough to stock a small used record store. And I do enjoy all of them, plus buying and selling on eBay.” — Pete Poulos aka “Bongo Pete”
Thanks to everyone who contributed. Keep the emails coming. And keep checking out