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Philly Joe Jones

Philly Joe Jones

Drums
July 15, 1923 -- August 30, 1985

Philly Joe Jones



"Philly Joe's forte was really his swinging ability. He could swing the band and play hard, and that's what made him an influence."

--Tony Williams


Philly Joe Jones played drums from the age of four, studied for three years with Cozy Cole, and was influenced early in his career by Max Roach and Sid Catlett. After serving in the army (from 1941) he moved in 1947 to New York, where as the house drummer at Cafe Society and other clubs he accompanied such musicians as Fats Navarro, Dexter Gordon, Dizzy Gillespie, and Charlie Parker, and in 1949 moved to Washington, where he worked with Ben Webster. He also played in the late 1940s in a group led by Johnny Griffin and the trumpeter Joe Morris, and with Tiny Grimes and Lionel Hampton.

In 1951 he made the acquaintance of Tadd Dameron, who played an important role in advancing his career. He returned in 1952 to New York, worked at the Downbeat club with Miles Davis, Lee Konitz, and Zoot Sims, and in 1953 joined a group led by Dameron, with which he recorded later that year. From 1955 to 1958 Jones belonged with Paul Chambers and Red Garland to Davis's quintet, and it was for this association that he became best-known. He also worked in the 1950s at Birdland with Duke Ellington, John Coltrane, Jimmy Oliver, and Billie Holiday, and from 1958 performed and recorded as a leader.

He lived and taught in London from 1967 to 1969, and in Paris from 1969 until 1972, when he returned to Philadelphia and formed a jazz-rock group, Le Grand Prix. In the late 1970s he worked for a year with Bill Evans (recording in 1976) and toured with Garland. He became the leader in 1981 of Dameronia, a group dedicated to the performance of music by Dameron; in addition to Jones its members were the saxophonists Frank Wess, Charles Davis, and Cecil Payne, the trumpeters Don Sickler and Johnny Coles, the trombonist Britt Woodman, pianist Walter Davis Jr., and the double bass player Larry Ridley. In 1984 he took part in a program of jazz and poetry with Archie Shepp and Amiri Baraka.

The volume, aggressiveness, and explosiveness of Jones' playing and the subtlety of his cross-rhythms helped to expand the role of the drums in jazz. A superb timekeeper, he was known especially for his technique with brushes, as well as his cymbal playing and his carefully structured solos.


--MICHAEL ULLMAN, The New Grove Dictionary Of Jazz


A selected discography of Philly Joe Jones albums.


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