Personalities | Jo Jones | Thirties | Jazz & Blues
Few players have defined a big band from the drum chair as strongly as Jonathon ‘Jo’ Jones did with Count Basie. When the first Basie records came out in 1937, their rhythm section was both a revelation and a revolution – and brought jazz drumming into a new, more sleek modernity. A master of the steely hi-hat cymbal, Jones coaxed from it a supple, relaxed whoosh, sliding accents slightly to either side of the beat. It swung with an uncanny crackle and power and became the principle mainspring of his time.
Jones had first worked with Basie in the Blue Devils in 1929. He joined the Basie band in Kansas City and remained during its prime years from 1936–44, during which he also recorded many dates with Teddy Wilson and Billie Holiday. Jones returned to Basie in 1946, by which time new drummers were carrying his innovations into bebop. From the 1950s onwards he freelanced and taught an army of young students, becoming known as ‘Papa’ Jo Jones in his later years.
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