Thread: Elvin Jones
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Old 01-10-2008, 10:07 AM
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Default Re: Elvin Jones

Originally Posted by criz p. critter View Post
I have always loved this guy, he's my all-time favorite jazz drummer. But what can you say about Elvin that his playing doesn't say for itself?

So let me just tell a little story... I went to see Elvin once, many years (well probably two-plus decades!) ago. His band was playing at the Lighthouse in Hermosa Beach, California. I got there early, and picked a seat in the front row center. The stage was only a few feet high, and his kit was set up right up front, so his kick drum was right in my face, just a few feet away. I remember he had a Tony-Williams-style yellow Gretsch kit that looked and sounded amazing.

Elvin came out before the gig, and was just standing onstage checking out the audience. He saw me sitting there and said "Hey, you look like Chick Corea." (Which I kinda did, at the time...) That would have been the perfect opportunity to have gotten to talk to my hero a bit, but of course I was so surprised and nervous, all I could do was blurt out a Ralph Kramden-like hamana-hamana-hamana stuttering kind of thing. Then he turned and walked backstage.

Anyway, needless to say it was an amazing gig and I was in heaven thoughout the two shows that night. And almost deaf when it was over and I drove home, cuz he was kind of a hard hitter, and like I said, I was right in front of his drums.

One other thing... I don't if it's been mentioned in the thread yet, but probably a lot of people don't realize: Elvin was a grunter! He would kinda grunt along in time with the music. I could hear him pretty clearly all through that show. Kinda weird, actually. After that, I started listening to all my Coltrane records closely, and you can sometimes hear him in quiet spots on the recordings, too.
Here's my Elvin story:

Met Elvin at Jazz Alley in Seattle many years ago. One of the nicest people i've ever met in life. Had a great conversation about drumming and gigs he did in Vancouver at the old Cave nightclub MANY years ago up a the bar on the break. Sat right up a front of the stage at a table in front of his kit for the show. Keiko came out and tuned the kit right before the band walked out on stage with the whole audience seated ready to enjoy the show. Amazing concert and he played a killer set of old pre-split Istanbuls that sounded lovely that really stuck in my mind.

Speaking of grunts and groans even in a quiet ballad with beautiful brush work that night you could hear Elvin's various vocal sound effects going on.

I got a nice postcard picture of Elvin I brought to the gig autographed that night too. He was a tall friendy man with big hands and long fingers like a star basketball player with a firm handshake and a sincere honest appreciation of those unknown to him he met that night who had been in love with his playing over many years and had no problem warmly meeting and greeting them as new friends..Priceless moments from the past indeed. Miss you dearly Elvin.

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