Album Remarks & Appraisals:
A bop-steaming jazz band delivering vibrant grooves. “Elvin is the beat of life itselfWhen I hear Elvin’s music I hear the future.” So said guitarist Carlos Santana in 2004 when he heard that drummer Elvin Jones had died. The rock star’s comments signal Jones’ importance. Born in Pontiac, Michigan in 1927, Jones’ playing lifted the drum set out of the rhythm section and into the frontline. He could control the pulse of a band while at the same time pepper the music with melodic accents, creating solos that were both strong and sensitive. For his MPS recording in February, 1978, he brought along his “Elvin Jones Jazz Machine” a quintet with the somewhat unusual lineup of two saxophones, guitar, bass, and drums. The band continued to be one of the most popular in jazz on into and through the 1990’s. The youngest of the three Jones brothers, trumpeter Thad and pianist Hank being the other two, Elvin rose to fame as the drummer for the seminal John Coltrane Quartet. For five years Jones played with the saxophone giant, creating music that revolutionized jazz. He left the band after Coltrane added a second drummer and the music took a new direction. For a time Elvin worked with a number of jazz greats, and then formed his own “Jazz Machine”. The German record producer and writer Joachim-Ernst Berendt commented that “There are many drummers today whose hands are faster than their heads. With Elvin, head and hand, body and soul are a single entity.”
Liner Note Author: Hans Hielscher.
Recording information: Tonstudio Zuckerfabrik, Stuttgart, Germany (02/03/1978-02/05/1978); Tonstudio Zuckerfabrik, Stuttgart, Germany (02/03/1978-02/05/2013).
The Elvin Jones Jazz Machine has frequently featured hard-toned tenors who improvise in a style influenced by John Coltrane, modal originals and high-powered performances in which the drummer/leader can push his sidemen. This MPS set is no exception. Pat LaBarbera and Michael Stuart double on tenors and sopranos, guitarist Roland Prince offers a contrasting solo voice and all of the material is obscure with four of the seven songs penned by LaBarbera. It's an excellent if somewhat lesser-known outing. ~ Scott Yanow