In Praise of Papa Jo

It’s very hard to compare even good non-jazz drummers to jazz drummers. A good jazz drummer plays with time and yet is completely synched with the rhythm. Rock drummers for the most part beat out the time. They smash the beat and are often a little sloppy about it. Switch the radio station from jazz (assuming it’s not some crappy fusion) to rock, and it’s rare that the contrast isn’t one of tightness-with-invention to sloppy-smashing. Obviously there are a few exceptions.

Count Basie used to talk about how even one note could swing. Papa Jo Jones was as good at swinging as any drummer. The clip above is amazing, but in a way he’s at his best when he’s just playing with time in the background – pushing it, pulling it, teasing it. And he always has that glorious smile of pure delight in what he’s doing. In the clip that follows the whole band is right in the groove, and Papa Jo is the (mostly) quiet rhythm holding it all together, conducting it almost. Bonus: the Count does some one-note swinging.

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1 Response to In Praise of Papa Jo

  1. mary says:

    I just read your hundreth post. Have you hit 200 yet?

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