The sublime odyssey of Hank Jones

I have never met a Jazz aficionado who did not like the pianist Hank Jones.  Because he was still recording so frequently at age ninety one it was tempting to think that he would live for ever.   To see footage of Hank playing was to love him because he radiated a rare warmth and a humanity.  His early influences in Jazz piano were Fats Waller and Art Tatum.  He was also there from the inception of Bebop but somehow he seemed to span the whole history of Jazz in his chordal voicing; which stretched from stride to post bop .   Joyous music ran out of his fingers like water from a faucet and we loved him because he was a Jazz god living among us. He believed that good Jazz should be infused with the blues and he practiced what he preached.  As he got older you could hear him happily sigh and chuckle as he played.  His deep throated vocalisations though quiet, somehow gave additional joy to his already joyous swinging music.

Hank was born in 1918 into a musical Mississippi family and his younger brothers Thad and Elvin became Jazz greats in their own right.  In his later years wide-spread recognition came his way but his innate modesty meant that the praise washed over him.  Hank was a great teacher and he never failed to support up-and-coming musicians.  A number of careers benefited from his support and this was a gift that he bestowed right up until his passing.   Hank left us in 2010 and the loss is still keenly felt.  A visit to the official Hank Jones web site will lessen the blow, because as you hear him welcome you, the realisation comes that his legacy and above all his music will remain with us always.

4 thoughts on “The sublime odyssey of Hank Jones

    • Yes a lovely Golson tune and there have been so many amazing versions of it. I hate to rate them as this is still a work in progress, but perhaps Art Blakey’s ‘Jazz Messengers’ version featuring Benny Golson and then Keith Jarrett’s from the eponymously named double album. Any more options?

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