Jo Jones (1911-1985) is one of the most important drummers in jazz history. He first stepped into the recording studios in the spring of 1931 and waxed three sides for Vocalion Records with Lloyd Hunter’s band featuring Victoria Spivey. In 1936, the classic Jones-Smith Incorporated
session marked the beginning of the drummer’s long association with Count Basie and produced the memorable "Boogie Woogie" sung by Jimmy Rushing. By 1940, Jo Jones had already recorded with Count Basie, Teddy Wilson, Billie Holiday, Benny Goodman, Harry James, Lionel Hampton, Sidney Bechet, Ida Cox and Lester Young’s famous Kansas City Six.
Since that time, Jones has appeared on thousands of studio sessions and concerts and is the idol of many modern day drummers. This CD is a re-issue of two fine LPs from the Everest label. In his six decade career, Jones recorded only a relative handful of sessions under his own name. That fact makes these tracks even more interesting. Tracks 1-12 are by the trio of Jones, pianist Ray Bryant and bassist Tom Bryant. The Bryant brothers are well-known in jazz circles. Ray Bryant crossed seamlessly back and forth between jazz and rock styles. He worked with Miles, Ella and Charlie Parker. Bassist Tom Bryant worked in jazz with Charlie Shavers and others. He spent the last decade of his life as a singer/bassist with the famed "Ink Spots." Three Ray Bryant originals are included in the trio session. They are "Little Susie," Bebop Irishman" and "Philadelphia Bound," named for his birthplace. The group has fun with "Sweet Georgia Brown" heralding some playful antics by the drummer. "Jive At Five" is a tip of the hat to Basie and offers some nice work by the two Bryants. "I Got Rhythm" Parts One and Two showcase the drummer’s impeccable wire brush techniques. Part 2 simply flies at a break-neck pace. More Basie-isms are added by Ray Bryant. It’s a captivating treatment of the Gershwin standard.
The second twelve tracks begin with a Jo Jones original, "Vamp ‘Til Ready," and the tune became the title song on the original Everest LP. In total, the sextet portion of the CD offers five Jo Jones originals. This reviewer found the sextet sides more interesting and swinging than the trio’s efforts. Tommy Flanagan is perfect, as always. His solo on "You’re Getting To Be A Habit With Me" flows like Champagne. Trombonist Bennie Green is featured on "Should I" and the big-band veteran shows his stuff. "Sweets" Edison is brought to the forefront on "Thou Swell." Tenor player, Jimmy Forrest, offers a burning solo on a frantically swinging "Sandy’s Body" with some great work by Tommy Flanagan. It should be mentioned that a printing error occurred on the CD track list. "Thou Swell" is, in fact, "Sandy’s Body" and vice-versa. The sextet swings wildly on the unlikely "Royal Garden Blues." The old Dixieland favorite gets a new look with some boppish touches by Flanagan, Edison, Forrest and Green. Perhaps they should have called it "Royal garden Bop." Jo Jones: The Everest Years
is a fine testimonial to the drummer everyone called "Old Man Time."