The passing of pianist Hank Jones lit up the jazz Twitterverse this morning, and for good reason: at 91, Jones was one of the last surviving masters of his momentous peer group, and still playing with extraordinary grace. I last heard him just a year or two ago with tenor saxophonist Joe Lovano, his partner on an excellent series of Blue Note albums (find them here, here and here). Here’s the NYT obit.
My first encounters with Jones were naturally on record: albums by Ella Fitzgerald and Charlie Parker. When I finally had the chance to see him about a dozen years ago, I was struck most by his correctness, a quality that suffused everything from his chord voicings to his posture and attire. But as Gary Giddins noted in 2007: “Jones’s playing isn’t all that genteel: mannerly, yes, but at the core resolute and spare.”
And by all means, see the clip below, which features Jones in good company, backing Coleman Hawkins, Charlie Parker, Lester Young, Sweets Edison, Flip Phillips and Ella Fitzgerald, in a rhythm section with bassist Ray Brown and drummer Buddy Rich. (Ah, YouTube.)