Elvin Jones's Room

Scott K Fish

Silver Member
Elvin Jones's Room


For a time in the late sixties, [Elvin Jones] lived in a first-floor room at the Chelsea Hotel. The room was long and narrow and dark, and it was clearly a bachelor's nest. The bed hadn't been made, and on a small dining room table were a box of cornflakes and a used cereal-bowl with a spoon in it. The bed was flanked by night tables, an overflowing ashtray and a copy of "The Voyage of the Space Beagle." The bureau was littered with aspirin and Band Aids and a travelling clock, which had stopped. Wedged between a bass drum and a snare drum in a window alcove were a pair of shoes and a bow tie.

Jones rummaged around in a bureau drawer and pulled out what appeared to be a thick sheaf of hotel bills. "I'm the world's worst bookkeeper," he said.... "I've been living here for several months, and, man, the seventy-some dollars a week I pay is expensive for me. And Pookie's Pub, where I'm at now, is not the highest paying club in town. I make about scale, or about a hundred and fifty a week. This morning I got a letter from my wife, who lives near the Haight-Ashbury district in San Francisco - she's no hippie - and my kid is sick again, which means more doctor bills. Everybody wants that bread all at once."

Source: A Walk to the Park, by Whitney Balliett, American Musicians II: Seventy-Two Portraits in Jazz, Oxford University Press 1996

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