I had just sat down to write a tribute to Hank Jones on his 88th birthday when I was alerted to a column about Hank by Mark Stryker in the Detroit Free Press. I may flatter myself that I know and understand a great deal about the elegant Mr. Jones, but on my best day I could not improve on what Stryker wrote. I wish Hank a happy birthday and enthusiastically recommend that you read Stryker’s article. Here’s a sample:
Jones’ marriage of grace and guts created the template for a school of modern jazz pianists from Detroit — he was later followed by Tommy Flanagan, Barry Harris and Roland Hanna — and his often overlooked influence has seeped into the bloodstream of jazz.
“His style is as profound and defined as any of the major masters,” says (Bill) Charlap. “It’s equal to Teddy Wilson, equal to Bill Evans, equal to Thelonious Monk, equal to Tommy Flanagan. It’s as much a unique musical utterance and just as balanced in terms of intellectualism and feeling.
“With Hank Jones you hear the past, present and the future of jazz piano.”
To read the whole thing, go here.
All I will add to Mark’s list of recommended Jones albums is a suggestion that you also listen to Second Nature if you can find it on, say, eBay. It is a double-LP Savoy package that contains the 1956 quintet session vibraharpist Milt Jackson made with Jones, tenor saxophonist Lucky Thompson, bassist Wendell Marshall and drummer Kenny Clarke. Jackson and Jones created magic together, and this was a glorious example of it. Short of Second Nature, a fair sampling of the session’s tracks are on the Jackson CD called Jackson’s Ville.