A self-taught drummer, Jones followed the example of his older brothers, Hank Jones and Thad Jones in becoming a professional musician. This was in 1949 and during the early 50s he began attracting attention through gigs with Teddy Charles and Charles Mingus. In New York City from the mid-50s, Jones moved in superior circles, having spells with Bud Powell, the Pepper Adams-Donald Byrd group, Harry ‘Sweets’ Edison, Stan Getz and Sonny Rollins. At the start of the 60s, Jones joined John Coltrane’s group where his free style and astonishing technical facility made him a key influence among contemporary jazz drummers. After brief spells with diverse musicians including Duke Ellington, Jimmy Garrison, Illumination! (1963), and Tony Scott, Jones led his own bands for some years. This took him through the 70s and on into the 80s during which time he had many veterans as well as leading young jazzmen among his sidemen. These included Frank Foster, George Coleman, Dave Liebman and David Williams. The 90s saw Jones leading his Jazz Machine, in which he fielded Ravi Coltrane, Delfeayo Marsalis, Nicholas Payton and David Sanchez among many. The remarkable technical gifts Jones displayed in his playing attracted not only the attention of jazz drummers but also those playing in jazz rock fusion and out-and-out rock bands.
Followers: Mitch Mitchell, Ginger Baker
Influenced By: Art Blakey, Max Roach...