His legacy to all of us who play the instrument is to let the music that is in the drums and in us to come through. His many recordings and performances have showed many sides of this man. Powerful and dominant at times and at other times, graceful and full of beauty, his legendary ability to layer complex rhythms was all in the service of the music and the man listened!
In all the years, I watched and listened to him I never heard or even sensed that he was doing something for the sake of recognition or applause. He had a groove that was very deep, a sensitive touch and a wide dynamic range. Two recordings that bring these skills to light are: Wayne Shorter’s “Speak No Evil” and “My Favorite Things” by John Coltrane. These recordings alone should abolish the wild man reputation.
“Sonny Rollins, A Night at the Village Vanguard” shows a younger and struggling Elvin Jones. He is grappling to give birth to the style that he became famous for. Sonny was roaming into unknown and thorny areas and you can hear Elvin trying to summon up the chops to accompany him. It doesn’t always happen in a technical sense, but it’s musically stimulating and it swings. The only bad thing about this recording is the horrible sound but it’s still well worth the money to hear three great musicians creating new music on the spot.
There is so much more to Elvin and I really can’t do justice to a lifetime of greatness in a blog, but I can keep the conversation going. Let me know what you think.