Elvin Jones – Freethinker (1969)

SKF NOTE: How many drummers were (are?) impacted by the Elvin Jones Trio with Joe Farrell on saxophones and Jimmy Garrison on bass? I remember my first experience hearing this trio and I wrote about it here.

Elvin had variations of this trio. There’s a live album with Elvin, George Coleman on tenor sax, and Wilbur Little on bass — which is a killer too. And just as I hope we haven’t heard all the recordings of Miles Davis’s Second Great Quintet, I hope there are more — much more — Elvin Jones Trio recordings to come.

Yes, I know there are several piano trio albums with Elvin on drums. As wonderful as those albums are, they are not Elvin Jones led sax-bass-drums trios.

Was I fortunate to see Elvin Jones play live? Yes, a few times. But never in a trio.

For drummers who never had, or will never have, the chance to see Elvin live? Elvin’s populated YouTube with recordings and concert footage. (I’ve watched two different Elvin Jones Trio videos.) Elvin has a discography second to no drummer.

For good measure, there are Elvin Jones interviews, profiles, and record/concert reviews such as this one from the Christmas 1969 Down Beat. I’ve included the entire interview. But, first I’ve isolated the Elvin focused parts of the review.

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Elvin Jones Trio concert review excerpts:

…quite a few voices were heard expressing surprise that the trio was not ‘further out.’

…the mighty man gives so much of himself whenever he plays….

…you will not find harder-hitting, more direct jazz anywhere today. Elvin and his two team-mates epitomize all that has been important about jazz since Buddy Bolden called his children home.

…Elvin Jones was one of the first of the free thinkers.

[Joe Farrell] Even on a tune like Stella By Starlight, when the drummer almost hammered him into the ground while trading fours with his acrid tenor saxophone, Farrell kept coming back, totally undaunted and attacking, headstrong and strongheaded.

On the opening number…Elvin charged at his drums, battering away like a demon until I thought the set would take off. Rolling from tom-tom to side drum, beating the heads into submission, he is truly deserving of every plaque and plaudit he has ever won. Yet even in the outer reaches of the maelstrom he creates, he keeps that extreme tastefulness that recalls the great Max Roach at his most commanding and undeniably masterful.

...For Heaven’s Sake…Elvin’s tasty brushwork…. Elvin, unlit cigarette clamped firmly between his teeth, grunted and grinned as he worked up his tasty brush patterns. At times like this he is not interested in hogging the spotlight or in blowing his two sidemen off the stand. He revels in showing that he knows how to slip into the role of ‘just the drummer’ — albeit a very handy one!

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