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Philly Joe Jones

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Joseph Rudolph (Philly Joe) Jones (July 15, 1923 – August 30, 1985) was a Philadelphia-born United States jazz drummer. The name “Philly Joe” was used to avoid confusion with Jo Jones, the drummer from the Count Basie Orchestra, who became known as “Papa Jo Jones”.

In 1947 he became the house drummer at Café Society in New York City, where he played with the leading bebop players of the day. The most important influence on Jones among them was Tadd Dameron.

Jones then toured and recorded with Miles Davis from 1955 to 1958 — a band that became known as “The Quintet”, and is regarded by many as one of the greatest groups in the history of jazz. Miles also acknowledged that Jones was his favorite drummer (in fact, in his autobiography, Davis admitted to asking other drummers to play that “Philly Joe lick”, with mixed results). He organized the Davis Quintet in 1955 so that he and Davis would not have difficulties finding competent local musicians to play with them. From 1958 onwards he worked as a leader, but continued to work as a sideman with other musicians, including Bill Evans and Hank Mobley. For two years (1967-69) he taught at a specially organised school in Hampstead, London, but was prevented from otherwise working in the UK by the Musicians’ Union.

From 1981 he helped to found the group Dameronia, dedicated to the music of the composer Tadd Dameron, and led it until his death.

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