Hank Jones

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Hank Jones
Hank Jones.jpg
Photo by Ed Newman
Background information
Birth name Henry Jones
Born (1918-07-31)July 31, 1918
Vicksburg, Mississippi, United States
Died May 16, 2010(2010-05-16) (aged 91)
The Bronx, New York, United States
Genres Bebop
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Piano
Years active 1944–2010
Labels Verve, Savoy, Epic, Capitol, Argo, Impulse, Concord, Chesky, Sony
Associated acts Ella Fitzgerald
Charlie Haden
Nancy Wilson
Charlie Parker
Salena Jones
Roberta Gambarini
Website Hank Jones official site

Henry "Hank" Jones (July 31, 1918 – May 16, 2010)[1] was an American jazz pianist, bandleader, arranger, and composer. Critics and musicians described Jones as eloquent, lyrical, and impeccable.[2] In 1989, The National Endowment for the Arts honored him with the NEA Jazz Masters Award.[3] He was also honored in 2003 with the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) Jazz Living Legend Award.[4] In 2008, he was awarded the National Medal of Arts. On April 13, 2009, the University of Hartford presented Jones with a Doctorate Degree for his musical accomplishments.

Jones recorded more than 60 albums under his own name, and countless others as a sideman,[5] including celebrated album Somethin' Else. On May 19, 1962, he played piano as actress Marilyn Monroe sang her famous "Happy Birthday, Mr. President" song to then U.S. president John F. Kennedy.[6]


Born in Vicksburg, Mississippi, Henry "Hank" Jones moved to Pontiac, Michigan, where his father, Henry Jones Sr. a Baptist deacon and lumber inspector, bought a three-story brick home. One of seven children, Jones was raised in a musical family. His mother Olivia Jones sang; his two older sisters studied piano; and his two younger brothers—Thad, a trumpeter, and Elvin, a drummer—also became prominent jazz musicians.[7] He studied piano at an early age and came under the influence of Earl Hines, Fats Waller, Teddy Wilson, and Art Tatum. By the age of 13 Jones was performing locally in Michigan and Ohio. While playing with territory bands in Grand Rapids and Lansing in 1944 he met Lucky Thompson, who invited Jones to work in New York City at the Onyx Club with Hot Lips Page.[8]

In New York City, Jones regularly listened to leading bop musicians, and was inspired to master the new style. While practicing and studying the music he worked with John Kirby, Howard McGhee, Coleman Hawkins, Andy Kirk, and Billy Eckstine. In autumn 1947, he began touring in Norman Granz's Jazz at the Philharmonic package, and from 1948 to 1953 he was accompanist for Ella Fitzgerald, and accompanying her in England in the Fall of 1948,[9] developed a harmonic facility of extraordinary taste and sophistication. During this period he also made several historically important recordings with Charlie Parker, which included "The Song Is You", from the Now's the Time album, recorded in December 1952, with Teddy Kotick on bass and Max Roach on drums.

Engagements with Artie Shaw and Benny Goodman followed, and recordings with artists such as Lester Young, Cannonball Adderley, and Wes Montgomery, in addition to being for a time, 'house pianist' on the Savoy label. From 1959 through 1975 Jones was staff pianist for CBS studios.[10] This included backing guests such as Frank Sinatra on The Ed Sullivan Show.[11] He played the piano accompaniment to Marilyn Monroe as she sang "Happy Birthday Mr. President" to John F. Kennedy on May 19, 1962.[1] By the late 1970s, his involvement as pianist and conductor with the Broadway musical Ain't Misbehavin' (based on the music of Fats Waller) had informed a wider audience of his unique qualities as a musician.

During the late 1970s and the 1980s, Jones continued to record prolifically, as an unaccompanied soloist, in duos with other pianists (including John Lewis and Tommy Flanagan), and with various small ensembles, most notably the Great Jazz Trio. The group took this name in 1976, by which time Jones had already begun working at the Village Vanguard with its original members, Ron Carter and Tony Williams (it was Buster Williams rather than Carter, however, who took part in the trio's first recording session in 1976); by 1980 Jones' sidemen were Eddie Gómez and Al Foster, and in 1982 Jimmy Cobb replaced Foster. The trio also recorded with other all-star personnel, such as Art Farmer, Benny Golson, and Nancy Wilson. In the early 1980s Jones held a residency as a solo pianist at the Cafe Ziegfeld and made a tour of Japan, where he performed and recorded with George Duvivier and Sonny Stitt. Jones' versatility was more in evidence with the passage of time. He collaborated on recordings of Afro-pop with an ensemble from Mali and on an album of spirituals, hymns and folksongs with Charlie Haden called Steal Away (1995).

Some of his later recordings are For My Father (2005) with bassist George Mraz and drummer Dennis Mackrel, a solo piano recording issued in Japan under the title Round Midnight (2006), and as a side man on Joe Lovano's Joyous Encounter (2005). Jones made his debut on Lineage Records, recording with Frank Wess and with the guitarist Eddie Diehl, but also appeared on West of 5th (2006) with Jimmy Cobb and Christian McBride on Chesky Records. He also accompanied Diana Krall for "Dream a Little Dream of Me" on the album compilation, We all Love Ella (Verve 2007). He is one of the musicians who test and talk about the piano in the documentary Note by Note: The Making of Steinway L1037, released in November 2007.

In early 2000, the Hank Jones Quartet accompanied jazz singer Salena Jones at the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival in Idaho, and in 2006 at the Monterey Jazz Festival with both jazz singer Roberta Gambarini and the Oscar Peterson Trio.

Hank Jones lived in upstate New York and in Manhattan. He died at a Calvary Hospital Hospice in The Bronx, New York, on May 16, 2010, survived by his wife Theodosia.[12]

Awards and recognitions[edit]

Grammy history
  • Career Wins: 2009: Lifetime Achievement Grammy
  • Career Nominations: 5[13]
Hank Jones Grammy Awards History
Year Category Title Genre Label Result
1977 Best Jazz Instrumental Performance – Soloist "Bop Redux" Jazz Muse Nominee
1980 Best Jazz Instrumental Performance – Soloist "I Remember You" Jazz Black & Blue Nominee
1980 Best Jazz Instrumental Performance – Group "I Remember You" Jazz Black & Blue Nominee
1995 Best Jazz Instrumental Solo "Go Down Moses" Jazz Verve Nominee
1995 Best Jazz Instrumental Performance – Individual or Group "Steal Away" Jazz Verve Nominee


As leader[edit]

Year Title Personnel Label
1947-53 Unbanity Clef
1955 The Trio Wendell Marshall and Kenny Clarke Savoy
1955 Quartet-Quintet Donald Byrd, Eddie Jones, Kenny Clarke + Matty Dice Savoy
1955 Bluebird Wendell Marshall. Kenny Clarke, Herbie Mann, Jerome Richardson, Donald Byrd, Matty Dice, Joe Wilder, Eddie Jones Savoy
1956 Have You Met Hank Jones Solo Piano Savoy
1956 Hank Jones' Quartet Bobby Jaspar, Paul Chambers and Kenny Clarke Savoy
1958 Gigi Barry Galbraith, Arnold Fishkin, Donald Lamond Golden Crest
1958 The Talented Touch Barry Galbraith, Milt Hinton, Osie Johnson Capitol
1958 Porgy and Bess Kenny Burrell, Milt Hinton, Elvin Jones Capitol
1963 Here's Love Kenny Burrell, Milt Hinton, Elvin Jones Argo
1964 This Is Ragtime Now! Milt Hinton, Osie Johnson ABC-Paramount
1966 Happenings with Oliver Nelson and Orchestra Impulse
1975 Hanky Panky Trio with Ron Carter and Grady Tate East Wind
1976 Satin Doll: Dedicated to Duke Ellington Solo Piano Trio
1976 Rockin' In Rhythm Trio with Ray Brown and Jimmie Smith Concord
1976 Arigato With Ray Rivera, Jay Leonhart or Richard Davis and Ronnie Bedford Progressive
1977 Bop Redux Trio with George Duvivier and Ben Riley Muse
1977 I Remember You Trio with George Duvivier and Oliver Jackson Black & Blue
1977 Just for Fun With Ray Brown, Shelly Manne and Howard Roberts Galaxy
1978 Our Delights Piano duo with Tommy Flanagan Galaxy
1978 Ain't Misbehavin' Richard Davis, Roy Haynes, Bob Ojeda, Teddy Edwards, and Kenny Burrell Galaxy
1978 Groovin' High Quintet with Sam Jones, Mickey Roker, Thad Jones, and Charlie Rouse Muse
1978 Compassion Trio with George Duvivier, Alan Dawson Black & Blue
1979 Bluesette Trio with George Duvivier, Alan Dawson Black & Blue
1989 The Oracle Trio with Dave Holland, Billy Higgins Emarcy
1992 Live at Maybeck Recital Hall, Volume Sixteen Concord
1995 Steal Away Duo with Charlie Haden Verve
2003 Porgy & Bess Toshiba EMI
2004 Satin Doll Absord Japan
2005 My Funny Valentine Sony/CBS
2006 Round Midnight Sony
2006 West of 5th With Jimmy Cobb and Christian McBride Chesky
2006 Hank and Frank Lineage
2009 Hank and Frank II Frank Wess, Ilya Lushtak, Marion Cowings, John Webber, and Mickey Roker. Lineage
2009 Pleased to Meet You Oliver Jones, Brandi Disterheft and Jim Doxas Justin Time Records
2009 Trio Hank Jones George Mraz, Willie Jones Multisonic
2012 Come Sunday Duo with Charlie Haden EmArcy

With Great Jazz Trio[edit]

Year Title Personnel Label
1976 I'm Old Fashioned with Sadao Watanabe, Ron Carter, Tony Williams East Wind
1976 Love for Sale with Buster Williams, Tony Williams East Wind
1977 Direct From L.A. East Wind
1977 Kindness, Joy, Love & Happiness East Wind
1977 At the Village Vanguard Vols. 1 & 2 with Ron Carter, Tony Williams East Wind
1978 New Wine in Old Bottles with Jackie Mclean, Ron Carter, Tony Williams East Wind
1978 Milestones with Jackie Mclean, Ron Carter, Tony Williams East Wind
1982 Threesome with Eddie Gómez, Jimmy Cobb East World
1983 N.Y.Sophisticate: a Tribute to Duke Ellington with Eddie Gomez, Jimmy Cobb, The Strings Quartet Denon Records
1984 Monk's Mood with Eddie Gomez, Jimmy Cobb, Terumasa Hino Dennon
Autumn Leaves with Elvin Jones (drums), Richard Davis (bass) 441 Records

As sideman[edit]


  1. ^ a b Thedeadrockstarsclub.com. Retrieved May 2010
  2. ^ According to Arnold Jay Smith (in "The Impeccable Hank Jones", Down Beat, July 31, 1976), Jones was branded "the impeccable one" by WRVR-FM jazz historian Ed Beach.
  3. ^ National Endowment for the Arts: Henry "Hank" Jones
  4. ^ 2003 ASCAP Jazz Living Legend Award
  5. ^ Jazz Review: Hank Jones
  6. ^ "Hank Jones: The Man Who Accompanied Marilyn", The Marilyn Monrow Collection Blog, February 4, 2009.
  7. ^ Henry "Hank" Jones bio
  8. ^ Larkin, Colin. The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music, Guinness, 1995, p. 2206. ISBN 1-56159-176-9
  9. ^ Feather, Leonard. Inside Jazz, Da Capo Press, 1988, p. 89. ISBN 0-306-80076-4
  10. ^ "Interview: 90-Year-Old Jazz Pianist Hank Jones", Village Voice, November 11, 2008.
  11. ^ Harvard: Hank Jones
  12. ^ Peter Keepnews, "Hank Jones, Versatile Jazz Pianist, Is Dead at 91", New York Times, May 17, 2010.
  13. ^ Grammy Awards Database for Hank Jones

External links[edit]