The Drums By Jo Jones, was the brainchild of long-time French jazz critic and champion of swing, Hugues Panassié. Though Panassie was the ultimate jazz purist–he detested be-bop
and didn’t even believe that Benny Goodman played “real” jazz–he nonetheless loved Papa Jo and freely acknowledged Jo’s considerable contributions to the Count Basie band, to rhythm sections in general, and to jazz drumming in
particular. What Panassie did was brilliant in its simplicity: Let Papa Jo loose in the studio with a drum set and a voice mike, and have him demonstrate and detail the styles of the drummers who influenced him, and the drummers who, in his estimation,
influenced drumming. Those who knew the enigmatic Mr. Jones would tell you that it wasn’t often easy to decipher the meaning in Jo’s verbal parables and riddles, but fortunately, on this landmark recording, his meanings are relatively clear.
Also quite clear, then and now, is what Jo Jones meant to drumming. Basically, he changed the jazz drumming playing field from that of a sometimes leaden, four-square presence that emphasized a four-to-the-bar beat via
the bass drum and snare drum, to that of a lighter, more interactive and musical timekeeper. Jo might not have invented the hi-hat or the ride cymbal per se, but he helped define how they should be played and how they would be played for years to come.
As one quarter of what was called Basie’s “All-American Rhythm Section” from 1934 to 1948, with a few interruptions — Basie, bassist Walter Page, rhythm guitarist Freddie Green—Jo set the stage and laid the groundwork for drummers
those we acknowledge today as the founding fathers of modern jazz drumming.
This recording finds Jo in his favorite setting: Telling stories and demonstrating the talents about the greats, the near greats, the
long forgotten, from Krupa and Chick Webb, to Baby Dodds and Baby Lovett. The bonus track, from 1969, features Jo with another legend; stride piano giant Willie “The Lion” Smith. Their rendition of “Sweet Sue” is a beautiful example of two, wiley masters at work who had no need for a bass player, or any other player for that matter, to sound like an orchestra.
In 1973, Jo Jones–nicknamed “Papa” Jo in his later years to ensure he wasn’t confused with “Philly” Joe Jones–was 62 years old and had a legacy of contributions to jazz and jazz drumming
behind him. Though acknowledged by musicologists as a percussionist who was virtually the father of modern jazz drumming, in 1973, he was something of a forgotten man in the United States, leading to episodes of depression that even his good friend and
admirer, Buddy Rich, couldn’t talk him out of.
Still, Papa Jo had Europe, where he began to spend more and more time on tour, performing before audiences who adored him. He was particularly revered
in France, the locale of this unique recording, where he was in the midst of a European tour with like-minded stylists that included keyboard giant Milt Buckner, and sometimes veteran swing tenor saxophonists like Buddy Tate and Illinois Jacquet.
Audio Recording | 4 Tracks | 77 minutes | Files are delivered via download as high-quality, AAC audio files.