Friday, August 15, 2014

Solo Transcription - Philly Joe Jones, "Minority"

If I had a gun to my head and was forced to pick a favorite jazz drummer it would have to be Philly Joe Jones.  And apparently I'm not alone.  Bill Evans expressed on more than one occasion that he considered Philly Joe to be "the ultimate jazz drummer", and his "all-time favorite…"

Why, then, he didn't hire him more often, I'm not really sure, but at least we have Everybody Digs Bill Evans.  This is Evans' second album as a leader, recorded shortly after he left Mile Davis' group, and before he returned to record Kind of Blue.

Many critics argue that Evans hadn't quite reached his full musical potential when he recorded this album.  True as that may be, I feel that this is the first time Bill Evans really sounds like Bill Evans.  Maybe it's the block chord voicings, or maybe just a lot happened in the two years between New Jazz Conceptions and Everybody Digs Bill Evans, but for me this is the first time that Evans playing screams "I'm Bill freakin' Evans!"

It could also have something to do with the sidemen.  Granted, Paul Motian played on Evans' debut release, but they hadn't yet teamed up with Scott LaFaro to create the trio that would turn Evans into a jazz superstar.  On Everybody Digs Bill Evans we hear Philly Joe teaming up with Sam Jones.  The two were playing together on a number of different projects around the same time, and obviously knew each other as musicians quite well.  Also, Evans and Philly Joe had become close friends while they worked together in Miles' group.  That's one of the things that makes this record so great for me, personally; the Evans/Philly Joe combo.  Besides the fact that Philly Joe is my favorite jazz drummer, and Evans one of my favorite pianists, the two have a very obvious chemistry.

The opening track, "Minority", has Philly Joe sounding particularly Philly Joe.  Nothing too flashy but taste and style (and Wilcoxon) oozing from every note.  Check out some of the Philly Joe-isms in the last two bars of the first section, the third full bar of the third section, and the first two bars of line 3, page 2. 


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