Elvin Jones: Jazz Machine

Jerry D'Souza By

Sign in to view read count
Elvin Jones
Jazz Machine
View Video

Elvin Jones may have established himself as one of the greatest drummers of all time, but equally important to him was his nurturing of young musicians. His Jazz Machine opened the door to several upcoming musicians, including Delfeayo Marsalis, Antoine Roney and Ravi Coltrane. He characteristically took delight in their playing, thus forging an emphatic bond. His attitude also served to enrich the music of the band.

The Elvin Jones Jazz Machine toured Europe in 1991 with Sonny Fortune (tenor saxophone, flute). Chip Jackson (bass), Willie Pickens (piano) and Coltrane (tenor and soprano saxophones). They recorded In Europe for Enja Records and were filmed at the Theaterhaus, in Stuttgart , Germany, for this DVD.

The quintet comes across strongly both as a band and in their individuality. The first tune "Is There a Jackson in the House?" makes a potent statement in its rhythm and melody with Pickens being the main focus. His journey makes judicious use of time and space, and Jackson adds enough ideas on the bass to give the whole an innate strength.

The luminosity of the ballad "Ray El" is lit by Fortune on the flute. He ministers to the melody before breaking into floating improvisations. Coltrane on the soprano saxophone pushes the compositions with fleet ideas, but it is Jones who shows how the tune can be cast in different patterns to make a comprehensive impact. At first his brushes are in soft consonance with Fortune and Coltrane, but when it's time for his solo, he gets more emphatic. From then on, he devises a series of rhythmic patterns, shaping his accents and driving the pulse to give the tune quite a different complexion.

"Bride of the Doll," based on a Japanese folk melody and written by Jones' wife Keiko, was a band favorite. Besides it's inclusion here, the song appears on the Enja CD and was performed years later at the Toronto jazz festival. Pickens plays the melody, injecting a fast tempo, hammering the keys while complementing the melody entirely with block chords. Coltrane and Fortune cut the groove deeper on the tenor saxophones, with Fortune blowing hard phrases that expand the composition. Jackson comes up with some wide-ranging ideas marked by motivic doublets, but Jones has the final say, his polyrhythmic explosions cascading, his timbral contrasts adding light and shade to the beat.

In short, the Elvin Jones Jazz Machine defines the art of modern jazz with an entertaining performance.

Tracks: Is There A Jackson in the House?; Ray El; Doll of the Bride.

Personnel: Sonny Fortune: tenor saxophone, flute; Chip Jackson: bass; Ravi Coltrane: tenor and soprano saxophones; Willie Pickens: piano; Elvin Jones: drums.

Production Notes: 62 minutes.


More Articles

Read I Called Him Morgan at Belfast Film Festival 2017 DVD/Film Reviews I Called Him Morgan at Belfast Film Festival 2017
by Ian Patterson
Published: April 4, 2017
Read I Called Him Morgan by Kasper Collin DVD/Film Reviews I Called Him Morgan by Kasper Collin
by Christine Connallon
Published: March 24, 2017
Read Bill Frisell: A Portrait DVD/Film Reviews Bill Frisell: A Portrait
by John Kelman
Published: March 14, 2017
Read Man of the World: The Peter Green Story DVD/Film Reviews Man of the World: The Peter Green Story
by Jim Trageser
Published: February 11, 2017
Read "Bill Frisell: A Portrait" DVD/Film Reviews Bill Frisell: A Portrait
by John Kelman
Published: March 14, 2017
Read "Jimmy Scott: I Go Back Home" DVD/Film Reviews Jimmy Scott: I Go Back Home
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: September 12, 2016
Read "Grateful Dead Meet Up at the Movies 5-11-2016" DVD/Film Reviews Grateful Dead Meet Up at the Movies 5-11-2016
by Doug Collette
Published: May 14, 2016
Read "Rolling Stones - Ole Ole Ole!: A Trip Across Latin America" DVD/Film Reviews Rolling Stones - Ole Ole Ole!: A Trip Across Latin America
by Doug Collette
Published: December 18, 2016
Read "The Anatomy of Vince Guaraldi" DVD/Film Reviews The Anatomy of Vince Guaraldi
by Marc Davis
Published: December 16, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus


Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!