I just want to express my sadness over the death of the great jazz drummer Elvin Jones. He came from a family steeped in jazz (brothers Thad, a cornetist, and Hank, the great pianist, were also important artists), and in his young years played with be-bop greats like Charles Mingus and J.J. Johnson. But his greatest era of fame and accomplishment came when he became part of John Coltrane's group (originally a quartet with McCoy Tyner on piano, and Jimmy Garrison on bass). His drumming was free, dramatic, and expressive in ways that drummers had rarely been before.
I regret that I never got to see him play in person, but seeing him in films and videos is a remarkable experience. In his interviews he came across as a sweet, playful, and spiritual man - all aspects of his personality that came through in his playing. I showed a video of the Coletrane group playing Greensleeves, to a class I was teaching. My young students, many of whom had never been exposed to jazz, were completely blown away, particularly by the sight of Jones' limbs dancing around the drums in effortless polyrhythm. They had never seen anything like it before. And we may never see anyone quite like Elvin Jones again.