Jimmy Jones Trio: 1954


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Jimmy Jones was an in-demand arranger and pianist throughout the 1950s and '60s, working with most leading jazz vocalists and soloists of the era. If you go into Tom Lord's Jazz Discography, you'll find Jones on 307 sessions. But if you modify your search, screened just for Jones's leadership dates, you'll find that the number is dramatically reduced to eight. In truth, there were only seven, since the tracks for Atlantic in 1957 were never issued.

Among these seven, the only trio session packaged as a six-song 10-inch album was Jimmy Jones Trio. Jones recorded the LP for the French Vogue labelin October 1954 in Paris. The only explanations for Jones recording just one trio album over the course of his career is that he was too busy or he was under contract as an arranger or accompanist to other artists. It's hard to imagine that not one producer had the bright idea to record Jones in a trio setting.

The Jimmy Jones in Paris included Joe Benjamin on bass and Roy Haynes on drums. The six songs they recorded were Lush Life, Easy to Love, Squeeze Me, My Funny Valentine, Good Morning Heartache and Little Girl Blue. Interestingly, the same group would become Sarah Vaughan's working trio two months later, starting with her first EmArcy 10-inch recording date with  Clifford Brown (tp), Herbie Mann (fl) and Paul Quinichette (ts).

What I love about Jones here is the drama and intensity of his elegance. His chord phrasings are thick, often executed with block chords. What he lacked in the way of extensive right-hand, single-line improvisation he made up for with a percussive grace. I'm just glad we have at least one complete trio date. Jimmy Jones died in 1982.

JazzWax tracks: The Jimmy Jones Trio tracks don't appear to be available on any compilation or set. His other leadership tracks are available on The Chronological Classics: Jimmy Jones 1946-1947 while four tracks are on a Gene Norman Presents compilation album from the mid-1950s called Escape. But both also are out of print and hard to find.

JazzWax clips: Fortunately, YouTube has three of the Paris clips up. Here's Just Squeeze Me...

Here's Good Morning Heartache...

Here's Little Girl Blue...

Photo credit: William P. Gottlieb

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This story appears courtesy of JazzWax by Marc Myers.
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