A moderate modernist with beautiful touch and exquisite taste, Hank Jones was a beacon of gentle authority, genuine modesty and jazz grace at the keyboard. Oldest brother of the more unruly trumpeter-composer Thad Jones and drummer Elvin Jones, Hank epitomized balance, consistency and flexibility. It was a joy to be in his company, whether listening to him or speaking with him. I was lucky to interview him in tandem with pianist Geri Allen — generations apart, but both from the Detroit area — as published in my book Future Jazz, and to sit with him at length again in 2009 for Down Beat. Here’s a photo by Enid Farber from the 2009 Jazz Journalists Association Jazz Awards of Hank with the picture of himself by Kris King that won the Award for Photo of the Year. What follows is my (long) article from my 2009 interview — with links to Amazon of some of his best albums, in case you’re moved, as I hope you will be, to hear him play . . .
My profile of pianist Hank Jones, who turned 91 on July 31, is in the August issue of Down Beat and excerpted here. Space limitations disallowed any of the resounding shout-outs I asked for from a bevy of musicians to make the print edition: No such problem on the web! So read what several pianists with styles of their own, and one of Hank’s most admiring collaborators, Â have to say about an eminently modest but extraordinarily accomplished gentleman.Â