Will Calhoun – Celebrating Elvin Jones (Behind the Scenes)

Will Calhoun – Celebrating Elvin Jones (Behind the Scenes)

Watching Elvin play, he just, he was a king. He owned what he was doing. He owned it. It was his thing and he was on the throne and he was, it was love. He gave it away but he owned it. The first time I saw Elvin Jones I was 14 years old. I saw him at the Village Vanguard and it completely changed my life. Although I grew up listening to lots of rock and roll and jazz and funk and different things, Elvin had something really special and unique to me. He connected my worlds. Although I saw him playing jazz, I felt rock and roll, I felt fusion, I felt especially African music, Indigenous music. Something about what he was doing, that really made me want to play the instrument and play it in my own way Elvin’s influence, that bang every time he hit was something special and something to look forward to. What’s the difference between Elvin Jones and any drummer, is like asking the difference between a spaceship and a car. If you really want to understand the sound of John Coltrane, you have to play with John Coltrane drummers, and then you’ll understand that sound. The power that he played with, as a piano player, wanting to, you know, you know kind of just mesh that power and the rhythms. To kind of embody some combination of the boxer and the ballerina dancer, you know, he was known for bending time you know, for taking the time stretching it, making it sound elastic, sound universal in a lot of ways. So, he influenced me heavily. His drum tuning, his technique his approach on the drums one hundred percent has a major influence on everything that I do, every style of music, especially Living Colour. Will has internalized not just “Elvin Jones’ drum style”, but he’s listened to his melodies, he’s paid attention to the way he put his bands together. He’s paying attention to the African element of Elvin’s playing. and I think he’s done a good job at bringing that to life here with his, with this session right here. Well, Will is definitely a student of Elvin Jones. You know, when he’s sitting behind the drum set and plays, he’s always pushing forward, and that is something that Elvin Jones always did. He always pushed forward. Well, my, my vision for this project, I’ve been thinking about this for 15 years or so because I listen to Elvin so much, he’s such a common part of my academic research and my listening at home and relaxing certainly my drum analysis and my studying. There’s always so much to learn, what’s inside of what Elvin’s doing. Some things are very simply stated, but very difficult. It’s a very difficult execution process happening. But I thought to myself, I’m always playing records, I’m always going back to live recordings and things. Why don’t I just do something? Because he’s so much a part of my growth. And I decided, you know, would I want to do a record covering Elvin Jones’ music? Do I want to set up like Elvin and tune like Elvin, or do I want to do Will Calhoun’s version of how it’s influenced me? And I want to respect Elvin’s contribution to the world of music, at large, not just jazz. At the same time, I think it’s important for me to take what he’s given me and the world and move it forward. The thing about art is we don’t own it. And I think as artists we have a responsibility to pass the baton onto the next person, to move it forward. Even if you move it forward in a way that piss people off, it’s still a movement. [laughs]

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14 thoughts on “Will Calhoun – Celebrating Elvin Jones (Behind the Scenes)”

  • Hey Will, I know your on the road w/ Living Colour. Are
    there any plans to tour and
    support this inspirational

  • I had the extreme pleasure of seeing Living Colour for the first time last week even though I've been a fan ever since their first album came out. At the show, they were selling this cd along with t-shirts and all that other stuff. I looked at the t-shirts for $25 each and then I saw this cd for $10 and I bought it. After about one and a half listens, I can tell I'm gonna be digging this cd for a long time. Oh yeah, Will Calhoun signed it for me after the show!!! They were all out there afterwards signing stuff and taking pictures. Great show!

  • Saw Elvin when I was a teen too-sat 10 ft away in front-he came on the stage,smiled,hit each drum with a stick and my thought (coming from a big band and fusion background)was -those Gretsch sound like crap…!!! He started off the first tune…..and it changed my life…still remember the power and sheer force …and that yellow double set of Gretsch were perfect

  • KEV KLY another motherfucker that wants to be the wiseguy…8 likers are also the most ignorant dimwits u can have in ur football team. TROLL ACCOUNT?? SURE – if u think this was an imitation , then u really do not comprehend what mr. Calhoun is doing here…