Elvin Jones’ Jazz Machine powered up at The Jazz Bakery in what had to be one of the best sets of the year. Fresh from a rousing performance to commemorate his 75th Anniversary at the San Francisco Jazz Festival, the patriarch of jazz drumming ignited the L.A. audience with an amazing repertoire of originals that ranged from Delfeayo Marsalis’ “The Unknown Tongue” to Jones’ rendition of a Japanese work/folk song in which he and his bandmates depicted the tenacity and strength of fisherman and women doing their work. The master drummer, [known originally for his consummate skills as a member of John Coltrane’s classic 60’s quartet] is one of the all-time great drummers that bridged the gap between advanced hard bop and the avant-garde. Elvin, the younger brother of a remarkable musical family that also includes Hank and Thad Jones, was joined by Gerald Cannon on bass, Anthony Wonsey on piano, Delfeayo Marsalis on trombone and Pat LaBarbera on saxophones. He introduced the players, the set list, lit the flames under his drum kit and came out smoking!
On “The Unknown Tongue,” Marsalis’ great introductory piece, the trombonist’s solo was right up there with anything played by the great J.J. Johnson. His technical facility and focus was absolutely amazing. Pat LaBarbera’s solo got the audience into high gear with his outstanding blowing on both the tenor and soprano saxophones. The audience was all eyes and ears as Anthony Wonsey wiped the curiosity right off their faces with a piano solo that came close to those heard during the great McCoy Tyner’s heyday. Gerald Cannon was walking that bass walk and Jones’ came in talking his slamming drum talk still taking it all to new heights. Jones’ drum set was on fire when one of the cymbals came undone and a very righteous lady named Keiko appeared quietly on stage to set it straight!
“Hello Brother” was a swinging number and each player soloed with amazing intensity. This ensemble was together in every sense of the word. Cannon’s bass solo brought an emphatic applause one righteously deserved for this under- recognized bassist. This song smoked. However this was the great Elvin Jones’ night. His rendition of “Three Card Molly” [which featured a relentless, in-your-face-and-ears drum, bass and piano jam section] was outright awesome. They were burning on every note and the near capacity audience gave up a standing ovation in appreciation. They closed the set with the untitled Japanese Folk/Work song and literally mesmerized the audience with their technical and melodic depictions of the fisherman’s environment. New, old, sweet and bold...Elvin Jones’ Jazz Machine put on an excellent show and it is one that should not be missed.
Related Article: Happy Birthday Elvin Jones!