Elvin Jones was one of the most influential, inspirational and beloved drummers of all time. Few artists have influenced the world, in such a beautiful way, as Elvin did. The instruments he played were the conduit to his musical genius. They weren’t his soul, rather the connection to his soul.
It is extremely rare to find a collection of an artist’s instruments as complete and intact as Elvin’s. Virtually every instrument he ever used were saved and stored in his NY apartment building. After his passing in 2004 I had the once in a lifetime opportunity to acquire this entire collection, hundreds of items, virtually every drum, cymbal, stick and brush he ever used. Even the shirts he and his band wore on stage. These artifacts are now available and can be seen below.
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Elvin Jones will always be best-known for his association with the classic John Coltrane Quartet (1960-1965) but he also had a notable career as a bandleader and continued to be a major influence in music. One of the all-time great drummers (bridging the gap between advanced hard bop and the avant-garde), Jones is the youngest brother of a remarkable musical family that also included Hank and Thad Jones. He moved to New York in 1955, worked with Teddy Charles and the Bud Powell Trio, and recorded with Miles Davis and Sonny Rollins (the latter as his famous Village Vanguard Session).
After stints with J.J Johnson (1956-1957), Donald Byrd (1958), Tyree Glenn, and Harry “Sweets” Edison, Jones became an important member of John Coltrane’s Quartet, pushing the innovative saxophonist to remarkable heights and appearing on most of his best recordings. He toured Europe with the Duke Ellington Orchestra and then started leading his own groups, which in the 90’s became known as Elvin Jones’ Jazz Machine. He remained active well into the 2000’s and continued to push himself musically with the Jazz Machine, touring regularly.
His dedication to and love of the drums were such that even in the face of health problems he continued to mount the drum stand, occasionally accompanied by an oxygen tank. On May 18, 2004, drum legend Elvin Jones suffered heart failure and passed away.