Count Basie and Harold Jones - JazzWax

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March 21, 2012


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Rich Noorigian

Harold came along after a time when the drum chair was in flux with many greats such as Louis Bellson, Rufus Jones and Don Lamond. These players played with fantastic precision and executed the charts perfectly but to me something was not working. Harold took over and it was obvious the fit was perfect. He had the touch of Papa Jo and Sonny that produced a tone from the drums that blended with the band beautifuly. His fills and set ups where open and swinging perfectly meshing with that Basie groove. Check out the two Dot records Straight Ahead and Standing Ovation to hear him in action. It is great to see Harold today as the great Tony Bennett's drummer.


Wow! Great clip and the other ones that pop up after are b-e-a-u-tiful too!

Red Sullivan

...and for so many years, the crucial master in sarah Vaughan's trio too. Very telling, appropriate and spontaneous with her (I guess he was Jimmy Cobb's succesor with her - maybe Roy McCurdy and Grady Tate in between).
Hear him on Sarah's "Gershwin Live", CBS, orchestra conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas but all arrangements - genius arrangements - by Marty Paich.
There's a scat-chase by Sarah on "The Man I Love" where Harold Jones really steps UP! It's as if he's playing behind Freddie Hubbard at his (Hubbard's) incendiary peak. And Sarah is right there... What can one say?
(Another good example is that YouTube of Sarah and the same trio welcoming Wynton Marsalis for a really happening guest solo on "Autumn Leaves" during a Boston Pops Orchestra concert. Look for that, eveyone. Wow - Harold Jones. Wow - SARAH VAUGHAN!!!! Very great).
I love that particular trio of Harold Jones Andy Simpkins and the great pianist, George Gaffney: Sarah's Trio. On "Gershwin Live" they are exemplary - and spontaneous with it.
Also, Marian McPartland used Harold Jones with John Clayton to great advantage on some marvellous records: Her "Plays Benny Carter" record is splendid. (And Mr. Carter used use Harold Jones too himself, to GREAT advantage - hear "A Genteman and his Music" on Concord - with Joe Wilder, [GODDAMN!], the great Ed Bickert and Gene Harris, as well as John Clayton again, and an inspiered Scott Hamilton, or some of those Carter big band tours to Japan too. Is it Jones drumming on Basie's "Kansas City Suite", written by Carter, for Roulette - one of Basie's best records ever. Anyone?

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  • Marc Myers writes regularly for The Wall Street Journal and is author of "Anatomy of a Song" (Grove) and "Why Jazz Happened." Founded in 2007, JazzWax is a two-time winner of the Jazz Journalists Association's best blog award.

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