- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 19, 2004


Legendary jazz drummer Elvin Jones, who gained world fame with the John Coltrane Quartet in the 1960s and later headed several groups of his own, has died in Manhattan. He was 76.

Mr. Jones died Tuesday after several months of failing health, according to published reports quoting John DeChristopher, director of artist relations for Avedis Zildjian Co., manufacturer of Mr. Jones’ cymbals.

The self-taught drummer continued to perform until a few weeks ago, often taking an oxygen tank onto the bandstand.

Born Sept. 9, 1927, in Pontiac, Mich., Mr. Jones, the youngest of 10 children, grew up in a musical atmosphere. His brother Hank is one of the finest pianists in jazz, and another brother, Thad, became a highly successful trumpet and fluegelhorn player, arranger and bandleader.

By age 13, Mr. Jones was practicing eight to 10 hours a day, determined to be a drummer.

In the mid-1950s, Mr. Jones relocated in New York, rapidly establishing himself as a leading exponent of bop drumming and working with several notable musicians, including trombonist J.J. Johnson, trumpeters Donald Byrd and Miles Davis, pianist Bud Powell and saxophonist Sonny Rollins.

In 1960, he became a member of Mr. Coltrane’s quartet, and over the next five years he grew into one of the outstanding drummers in jazz history. He also played briefly with Duke Ellington in 1966.

In 1979, he recorded “Very R.A.R.E.” with Art Pepper and that same year was the subject of a documentary film, “Different Drummer: Elvin Jones.”

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