Among the jazz musicians birthdays yesterday was Hammond B3 organist and pianist Milt Buckner. Buckner was an influential musician on both instruments. He started out playing piano in Detroit in the 1930s.
By 1941 he had joined Lionel Hampton’s band and over the next 7 years he worked with the band as its pianist and staff arranger. Milt’s love of rocking rhythms and boogie-woogie messed nicely with Hampton;s style!.During this period, Buckner developed a uniquely percussive technique employing parallel tonal patterns, later referred to as “block chords.” Buckner’s locked hand technique would later be used by such greats as Red Garland, George Shearing, Bill Evans, and Oscar Peterson.
Throughout the 50s and into the sixties Buckner recorded ten albums as a leader. He spent the last eleven years of his life, which ended in 1977 at the age of 62, in Europe. His final album, Green Onions, was released in 1965, and the title track was the song I was going to use when I wrote about Milt. Any time I get to listen to Green Onions is a good time! However, this morning as I was searching through videos to play I came across this one, George Benson, Jo Jones, Milt Buckner, Jimmy Slyde in “L’Aventure du Jazz” As I was watching this video I was in all of drummer Jo Jones, whose name I didn’t recognize. My thoughts immediately went to Philly Joe Jones, who, according to Wikipedia Jo was confused with in his later years. The two drummers actually died only days apart. Anyway, I quickly went to Wikipedia to find out more about Jo…
He was one of the first drummers to promote the use of brushes on drums and shifting the role of timekeeping from the bass drum to the hi-hat cymbal. Jones had a major influence on later drummers such as Buddy Rich, Kenny Clarke, Roy Haynes, Max Roach, and Louie Bellson. He also starred in several films, most notably the musical short Jammin’ the Blues (1944).
Jones performed regularly in later years at the West End jazz club at 116th and Broadway in New York City. These performances were generally very well attended by other drummers such as Max Roach and Roy Haynes. In addition to his artistry on the drums, Jones was known for his irascible, combative temperament.
In contrast to drummer Gene Krupa’s loud, insistent pounding of the bass drum on each beat, Jones often omitted bass drum playing altogether. Jones also continued a ride rhythm on hi-hat while it was continuously opening and closing instead of the common practice of striking it while it was closed. Jones’s style influenced the modern jazz drummer’s tendency to play timekeeping rhythms on a suspended cymbal that is now known as the ride cymbal
So now I have two more jazz pioneers whose work I need to explore…. so while I head over to Spotify to check out Jo Jones and Milt Buckner…. you can watch another video of the two, well, primarily the amazing Mr. Jones!!