"Philly" Joe Jones - Drums

1923 - 1985

The irrepressible Philly Joe Jones must count as the busiest drummer in the 50s and early 60s. During that hectic post-bebop era, no drummer was more active or as much in demand for gigs and recording dates on New York-based labels. Philly Joe (who was nicknamed in honor of his hometown to avoid confusion with Count Basie's longtime rhythm section mainstay, Jo Jones) first gained attention in the early 50s with the Miles Davis Quintet, where he formed part of one of the greatest rhythm sections of all time, along with Paul Chambers (bass) and Red Garland (piano).

Born Joseph Rudolph Jones in Philadelphia on July 15, 1923, his mother, a piano teacher taught him the basics in music. In his formative years he also studied the drums with the likes of Cozy Cole and Charles Wilcoxon, receiving valuable advise from Art Blakey and a then younger Max Roach. He began playing with the rhythm and blues bands in the 40’s, establishing himself on the New York jazz scene. The first group that he recorded with was co-led by Johnny Griffin and Joe Morris, along with Matthew Gee on trombone, Elmo Hope and Percy Heath. Philly left the group to join his first main influence; composer/bandleader Tadd Dameron. Meanwhile he worked in Philadelphia as the local drummer for stars such as Dexter Gordon and Fats Navarro.

The second major influence to shape Philly Joe’s career was Miles Davis. From 1952-58 Jones was a part of Miles' classic Quintet which shaped the future of Jazz. The Miles Davis Quintet achieved international fame and made stars of Davis and John Coltrane. Jones was involved in all the classic recodings by the quintet and when they incorporated Cannonball Adderley to become a sextet, Jones was around to record the classic Milestones album. When not recording with Davis, the rhythm section was on-loan to other greats in the business such as Sonny Rollins, Art Pepper and John Coltrane, for his famous Blue Train album. In 1958, he started leading his own groups, recording for Riverside (1958-1959) and Atlantic (1960). Having served many leaders so well, Jones was always able to attract sidemen of the first rank when he himself started recording under his own name. Jones surrounded himsef with such artists as Cannonball and Nat Adderley, Lee Morgan, Blue Mitchell, Benny Golson, Curtis Fuller, Johnny Griffin, Tommy Flanagan, Jimmy Garrison, Harold Land, Cedar Walton and his section mate from the Davis band, pianist Wynton Kelly. In the early 60s things started to turn and there was a decline in Jones’ career. An important reason was the emergence and success of John Coltrane's new Quartet which included a remarkable young drummer, Elvin Jones, who chartered new directions. Jones lived in London and Paris during 1967-1972 performing and recording with some avant-garde players, including Archie Shepp. He eventually returned to Philadelphia, where he led a fusion group, Le Grand Prix, toured with Bill Evans during 1976, recorded for Galaxy in 1977 and 1979, and worked with Red Garland. Starting in 1981, he formed Dameronia, a group dedicated to playing original material of Tadd Dameron. On August 30th, 1985, he passed away of a heart attack in his home in "Philly."

Recommended recordings
Blues for Dracula OJCCD-230-2 (Riverside 282)
Showcase OJCCD-484-2 (Riverside 1159)
Drums Around the World: Big Band Sounds OJCCD-1792-2 (Riverside 1147)
Philly Mignon OJCCD-1935-2 (Galaxy 5112)
Drum Songs Milestone MCD-47094-2
Philly Joe's Beat/Philly Joe & Elvin Jones Together! Collectables

Drum Night at Birdland

Blue Note
Philly of Soul Epm Musique