Rifftide: The Life and Opinions of Papa Jo JonesAs told to Albert Murray. Edited by Paul Devlin.200 pagesISBN:978-0-8166-7301-8University of Minnesota Press2011Rifftide is a slim volume subtitled The Life and Opinions of Papa Jo Jones. Best known for his long tenure with the Count Basie Orchestra, Papa Jo Jones is arguably the most influential drummer in the history of jazz. Throughout the book, Jones speaks with absolute certainty. His thoughts constantly plow forward, with little concern for coherence or a narrative flow. Although Jones often acknowledges life's difficulties--such as ...read more
This article appears in Chapter 2 and Chapter 3 of Rifftide: The Life and Opinions of Papa Jo Jones By Papa Jo Jones As Told to Albert Murray (University of Minnesota Press, 2011). A Different Kind of Living in That Southwest Here is what happened. Basie did exactly what Fats Waller did: all the guys that come under James P. Johnson, you know what I mean, and Willie “The Lion" Smith, they stayed playing that Harlem way, they didn't do the traveling, like Fats and Basie. Fats left and Fats was in the byways and gone. ...read more
Jo Jones's reputation rests solely on his stint with Count Basie, but that's like saying that Humphrey Bogart is known only for his acting. Jones, along with Freddie Green, Walter Page, and Basie, virtually invented the concept of swing. As a unit, they powered the Basie band through a series of top-notch records. But what did Jones do after that?
For one thing, he recorded a few albums as a leader. These sessions, done for the Everest label in 1958 and 1960, are obscure but terrific. The first half, originally titled The Jo Jones Trio, features his working ...read more