The picture of happiness reflected in this picture of Philly Joe Jones permeates the music on this CD. Don’t be misled by the title of this album "Drum Songs" though, Jones is the main performer on these songs yet he gives way to a cavalcade of jazz icons in a plentiful way, and why not? With Blue Mitchell, Charles Bowen, Harold Land, and Slide Hampton handling the brass, the legendary Cedar Walton on the ivory keys, and Marc Johnson holding up the other side of the rhythm section, this is a stage for jazz greats to strut their stuff, and do they ever.
This is bop at its very best, from an improvisational standpoint and technically. The players that got together for these sessions were more than proficient with their instruments. You will notice that the disc plays for an extended amount of time; it’s actually two albums wrapped into one taken from the Galaxy releases "Advance!" and "Drum Song." Jones is simply masterful throughout the recordings, playing adroitly and forceful when called upon to do so. With 11 tracks, and not one running under 5 minutes, this is a full and complete rendering of the musical language. Jazz truly is an art form that is complicated and dissimilar, and it takes an especially talented soul to play the style well. To get together several folks that are dexterous enough to handle all of the changes and ongoing improvisation is in and of itself a miracle, it’s a touch of heaven at work.
Philly Joe Jones was recognized by Miles Davis long before he took the role of bandleader upon his shoulders. It’s evident that the insight of Davis was right on money. Jones was and remains one of the few archetypal drummers of jazz. The reason you continually see remasters of jazz is because it’s timeless and wonderfully pure music that deserves to be handled with kid gloves by labels like Fantasy Jazz. I also really enjoy the liner notes; it helps me to paint a picture in my minds eye of all the people involved and the legacy of each player.
Put another one on the shelf for your jazz collection. This is one more piece to the ever growing puzzle of jazz history, and the only way to put it all together so everything fits is to get all the pieces.