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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jo Jones
Jones, ca. 1960
Jones, ca. 1960
Background information
Birth nameJonathan David Samuel Jones
Also known as
  • Papa Jo Jones
  • Kansas City Jo Jones
Born(1911-10-07)October 7, 1911
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
DiedSeptember 3, 1985(1985-09-03) (aged 73)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Associated actsCount Basie

Jonathan David Samuel Jones (October 7, 1911 – September 3, 1985) was an American jazz drummer. A band leader and pioneer in jazz percussion, Jones anchored the Count Basie Orchestra rhythm section from 1934 to 1948. He was sometimes known as Papa Jo Jones to distinguish him from younger drummer Philly Joe Jones.


Born in Chicago, Illinois, Jones moved to Alabama, where he learned to play several instruments, including saxophone, piano, and drums. He worked as a drummer and tap-dancer at carnival shows until joining Walter Page's band, the Blue Devils in Oklahoma City in the late 1920s. He recorded with trumpeter Lloyd Hunter's Serenaders in 1931, and later joined pianist Count Basie's band in 1934. Jones, Basie, guitarist Freddie Green and bassist Walter Page were sometimes billed as an "All-American Rhythm section," an ideal team. Jones took a brief break for two years when he was in the military, but he remained with Basie until 1948. He participated in the Jazz at the Philharmonic concert series.

He was one of the first drummers to promote the use of brushes on drums and shifting the role of timekeeping from the bass drum to the hi-hat cymbal. Jones had a major influence on later drummers such as Buddy Rich, Kenny Clarke, Roy Haynes, Max Roach, and Louie Bellson. He also starred in several films, most notably the musical short Jammin' the Blues (1944).

Jones performed regularly in later years at the West End jazz club at 116th and Broadway in New York City. These performances were generally very well attended by other drummers such as Max Roach and Roy Haynes. In addition to his artistry on the drums, Jones was known for his irascible, combative temperament.

One famous instance of his irritable temper was in the spring of 1936, when he threw a cymbal on the ground when a very young Charlie Parker failed to improvise after being unable to follow the chords of the piece.

In contrast to the prevailing jazz drum style exemplified by Gene Krupa's loud, insistent pounding of the bass drum on each beat, Jones often omitted bass drum playing altogether. Jones also continued a ride rhythm on hi-hat while it was continuously opening and closing instead of the common practice of only striking it while it was closed. Jones's style influenced the modern jazz drummer's tendency to play timekeeping rhythms on a cymbal that is now known as the ride cymbal.

In 1979, Jones was inducted into the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame for his contribution to the Birmingham, Alabama musical heritage. Jones was the 1985 recipient of an American Jazz Masters fellowship awarded by the National Endowment for the Arts.

His autobiography (as told to Albert Murray), entitled Rifftide: The Life and Opinions of Papa Jo Jones and based on conversations between Jones and novelist Murray from 1977 to before Jones' death in 1985, was posthumously published in 2011 by the University of Minnesota Press.[1]

Known as Papa Jo Jones in his later years, he is sometimes confused with another influential jazz drummer, Philly Joe Jones. The two died only a few days apart.

Jones died of pneumonia in New York City at the age of 73.[2]


As leader/co-leader

As sideman

With Gene Ammons

With Mae Barnes

  • Mae Barnes, Jo Jones, Buck Clayton, Ray Bryant (1958)

With Count Basie

With Art Blakey

With Bob Brookmeyer

With Ray Bryant

With Milt Buckner

  • Midnight Slows, Volume 4 (Black & Blue, 1974)
  • Midnight Slows, Volume 5 (Black & Blue, 1974)

With Joe Bushkin

  • Joe Bushkin,Jo Jones,Buck Clayton (Columbia, 1951)
With Buck Clayton

With Blossom Dearie

  • Blossom Dearie, Jo Jones, Ray Brown (Verve, 1956/57)

With Roy Eldridge

With Duke Ellington & Johnny Hodges

With Ella Fitzgerald

With Freddie Green

With Cass Harrison

  • Wrappin' It Up (MGM, 1957)
With Coleman Hawkins

With Woody Herman

With Illinois Jacquet

With Budd Johnson

With Thad Jones

With Charles Mingus

With Oscar Peterson

With Paul Quinichette

With Slam Stewart
  • Slam Bam (Black And Blue, 1971)
  • Slamboree (Black And Blue, 1972)

With Sonny Stitt

With Buddy Tate
  • Swinging Like Tate (Felsted, 1958)
  • Midnight Slows, Volume 4 (Black & Blue, 1974)
  • Midnight Slows, Volume 5 (Black & Blue, 1974)

With Ben Webster

With Dicky Wells

With Teddy Wilson

With Lester Young



  • Jones, Jo (2011). Rifftide: The Life and Opinions of Papa Jo Jones. University of Minnesota Press. ISBN 978-0816673018.


External links

This page was last edited on 6 February 2021, at 16:29
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