Thursday, September 16, 2010

Papa Jo Jones

My time studying with Max Mariash involved not only rudimental practice, but listening and savoring the playing of great jazz drummers. Max was able to listen to a recording and quickly identify the drummer. It didn't make any difference who was playing--Chick Webb, Max Roach, Art Blakey, Louie Bellson, Elvin Jones, Tony Williams, Buddy Rich, or Gene Krupa.
But there was one drummer who brought a smile to Max's face and the statement, " Yeah, really swinging." That drummer was Papa Jo Jones. I still remember the first time I heard the great Count Basie Band with Papa Jo playing on Jumping at the Woodside, One O'clock Jump, Swinging the Blues, and Every Tub. His playing was propulsive, yet somewhat understated---elegant even, but always, always swinging.
Louie Bellson appeared at the Jazz Showcase in Chicago many, many times. I would go to every show that I could and chat with Louie after the gig. More than once, Louie would talk about Papa Jo and rave about his playing. He described his brush playing, "like that of a fan dancer."
The pictured LP is actually a French release. I purchased it many years ago when I worked at the local record store. Papa Jo is on the cover and he plays on a number of cuts. His playing is wonderful. There's no other word to describe it.
His influence still resounds through the years. His playing with Count Basie and others never "gets old." He was one of the greatest drummers ever.

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