Thursday, May 20, 2004

i heart summer

Today I would like to pay tribute to Elvin Jones, the great jazz drummer, who just died. He lived to the age of 324, in bebopper years. Unfortunately, in human years, he was only 76.

Elvin Jones was a sort of sorcerer of rhythm. Or maybe he was a sort of string theorist. He specialized in "polyrhythms," which, as far as I can tell, represent the voice of the Creation itself.

Elvin Jones is best known as the drummer for John Coltrane. I was lucky enough to see him play in a small club in 1991, when he was still touring and way on top of his game. I was not much for drums; but seeing him was like watching someone open a secret door in the air and exposing a wonderland. I never knew there were so many rhythms buried inside of other rhythms, and I never knew beats coiled around each other like DNA. His music may have been the original inspiration for my theory that music is actually a dimension of time-space.

Thank you to Elvin Jones for going where no American, certainly, has ever gone, before or since--all the way down inside the serpent!

Hooray for Elvin Jones.

1 comment:

Hollywood Wags said...

Found your blog through circuitous ways...agree about Elvin. A genius. I'm a drummer and what he played is so different from what everyone else was playing at the time. There were other guys who had other bits and pieces of a unique sound but he had the impetus and initiative to create the new rythyms that would be the drum language for jazz. Tony Williams was the only other I can think of who got so deep into the triplet.