Remembering Elvin Jones
I personally made it a point to see Elvin every time he was in town. The last time he played here, I brought along my friend Perry, who doesn't get out much because he's suffering from Lou Gehrig's disease. Joining us for the evening was Perry's son, 14-year-old Ryan, to finally watch his drumming idol. After the show, Ryan and I walked up to Elvin's wife, Keiko and asked if we could meet him and get an autograph. She brought all of us, with Perry hobbling along, through the crowd to meet Elvin. He was still shaking, and was trying to wind down after having given his all from playing so intensly. However, Elvin patiently and warmly greeted Perry and Ryan, posed for pictures and signed a set of sticks to give to young Ryan. It was a golden moment for father and son.
When Elvin came to town, The Jazz Bakery was his home.
Founder Ruth Price reminded me, "Elvin was a very generous spirit. If there were young people at the Bakery, he'd stop and talk to them on the way off stage. The last time at the Bakery, he was weaker, and it was obvious. I could see he was fatigued and fragile, but the moment he sat on his drum throne and started to play, there was no difference between that Elvin and a 27-year-old Elvin, except this one played better and more mature. He was a magical presence and easy to care about. He didn't talk a lot, but he sure made sense."
Elvin made sense and without him, the days seem just a bit more confusing