The force has been with drummer Elvin Jones for more than two decades now. It will be in evidence through Sunday at Blues Alley as Jones' Jazz Machine pumps out some prime jazz centered aroung the polyrhythmic pulse of one of the idiom's most distinctive voices.
Last night, Jones wielded an impressive arsenal of accents, strokes, rolls and rhythmic patterns. In propelling and provoking the dual tenor saxophones of Washingtonian Andrew White and Ari Brown, Jones fitted the passion to the piece. In the buoyant opener, George Cables' "Lord Jesus, Think of Me," Jones' arms and legs plunched out such arresting pulses that it seemed that two or three different drummers were at work.
On Duke Ellington's classic ballad "In a Sentimental Mood," Brown's appropriately lush tenor was graced by Jone's insistently gentle brush work. And on "Zange" (Bear God), a spiritual composition from the pen of Jones' wife, Keiko, the leader went to tomtom sticks and fed a spiraling pulse at the song's bottom.
Throughout the night Jones surrounded his soloists, who included guitarist Marvin Horne and bassist Andy McCloud, with a barrage of unexpected and unpredictable bass drum and cymbal accents above and beyond the drums themselves. It's no wonder he was the late John Coltrane's most inspiring drummer. Jones remains inspiring to this day.