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Hank Jones

Hank Jones
Photo by Ed Newman
Background information
Birth name Henry Jones Jr.
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 Jr. (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 Cannonball Adderley's 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]


  • Biography 1
  • Awards and recognitions 2
  • Discography 3
    • As leader/co-leader 3.1
    • With Great Jazz Trio 3.2
    • As sideman 3.3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


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 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 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

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/co-leader

Year Title Personnel Label
1947-53 Urbanity Clef
1955 The Trio Trio with Wendell Marshall and Kenny Clarke Savoy
1955 Quartet-Quintet Quartet/Quintet with Donald Byrd, Eddie Jones, Kenny Clarke + Matty Dice Savoy
1955 Bluebird Quartet/Quintet with Wendell Marshall/Eddie Jones, Kenny Clarke + Herbie Mann/Jerome Richardson/Donald Byrd and Matty Dice/Joe Wilder Savoy
1956 Have You Met Hank Jones Solo piano Savoy
1956 Hank Jones' Quartet Quartet with Bobby Jaspar, Paul Chambers and Kenny Clarke Savoy
1958 Gigi Quartet with Barry Galbraith, Arnold Fishkin, Donald Lamond Golden Crest
1958 The Talented Touch Quartet with Barry Galbraith, Milt Hinton, Osie Johnson Capitol
1958 Porgy and Bess Quartet with Kenny Burrell, Milt Hinton, Elvin Jones Capitol
1963 Here's Love Quartet with Kenny Burrell, Milt Hinton, Elvin Jones Argo
1964 This Is Ragtime Now! Trio with 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 Jones-Brown-Smith Trio with Ray Brown and Jimmie Smith Concord Jazz
1976 Arigato Trio/Quartet with Richard Davis/Jay Leonhart, Ronnie Bedford + Ray Rivera, Progressive
1977 Bop Redux Trio with George Duvivier and Ben Riley Muse
1977 Just for Fun Trio/Quartet with Ray Brown, Shelly Manne + Howard Roberts Galaxy
1977 I Remember You Trio with George Duvivier and Oliver Jackson Black & Blue
1977 Have You Met This Jones? Trio with Isla Eckinger and Kurt Bong MPS
1977 The Trio Trio with Milt Hinton and Bob Rosengarden Chiaroscuro
1977-78 Tiptoe Tapdance Solo piano Galaxy
1978 Groovin' High Quintet with Sam Jones, Mickey Roker, Thad Jones, and Charlie Rouse Muse
1978 Our Delights Piano duo with Tommy Flanagan Galaxy
1978 More Delights Piano duo with Tommy Flanagan Galaxy
1978 Compassion Trio with George Duvivier and Alan Dawson Black & Blue
1978 Ain't Misbehavin' Trio/Sextet with Richard Davis, Roy Haynes + Bob Ojeda, Teddy Edwards, and Kenny Burrell Galaxy
1979 Easy to Love Trio with George Duvivier, Shelly Manne Lobster
1979 Hank Jones Trio Live in Japan Trio with George Duvivier, Shelly Manne Trio
1979 Trio 1979 Discoveries Trio with George Duvivier, Shelly Manne 55
1979 Bluesette Trio with George Duvivier, Alan Dawson Black & Blue
1983 I'm All Smiles Piano duo with Tommy Flanagan MPS
1985 Great Jazz Quartet Live in Japan Quartet with Sam Most, Ray Brown, Alan Dawson TDK
1987 Duo Duo with Red Mitchell Timeless
1989 The Oracle Trio with Dave Holland, Billy Higgins EmArcy
1989 Lazy Afternoon Quartet with Ken Peplowski, Dave Holland, Keith Copeland Concord Jazz
1990 Hank Jones with the Meridian String Quartet With the Meridian String Quartet conducted by Manny Albam LRC
1991 Hank Jones Trio with Mads Vinding & Al Foster Trio with Mads Vinding, Al Foster Storyville
1991 Live at Maybeck Recital Hall, Volume Sixteen Solo piano Concord
1993 Upon Reflection: The Music of Thad Jones Trio with George Mraz, Elvin Jones Verve
1995 Steal Away Duo with Charlie Haden Verve
2004 'Round Midnight Solo piano Eighty-Eight's
2004 For My Father Trio with George Mraz, Dennis Mackrel Justin Time
2005 My Funny Valentine Sony/CBS
2006 Round Midnight Sony
2006 Kids: Live at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola Duo with Joe Lovano Blue Note
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

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 The Great Jazz Trio at the Village Vanguard with Ron Carter, Tony Williams East Wind
1977 The Great Jazz Trio at the Village Vanguard Vol. 2 with Ron Carter, Tony Williams East Wind
1977 The Great Jazz Trio at the Village Vanguard Again with Ron Carter, Tony Williams East Wind (released 2000)
1977 Bird of Paradise with Sadao Watanabe, Ron Carter, Tony Williams Flying Disk
1977 Kindness Joy Love & Happiness with Ron Carter, Tony Williams East Wind
1977 Direct from L.A. with Ron Carter, Tony Williams East Wind
1978 Milestones with Ron Carter, Tony Williams East Wind
1978 New Wine in Old Bottles with Jackie McLean, Ron Carter, Tony Williams East Wind
1978 The Great Tokyo Meeting with Ron Carter, Tony Williams East Wind
1980 Chapter II with Eddie Gómez, Al Foster East Wind
1980 Moreover with Eddie Gómez, Al Foster East Wind
1982 Threesome with Eddie Gómez, Jimmy Cobb Eastworld
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


  1. ^ a b 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

  • Official website
  • Hank Jones at the Internet Movie Database
  • Hank Jones complete discography
  • Arnold Jay Smith, "Profile: Hank Jones",
  • Peter Keepnews, "Hank Jones, Versatile Jazz Pianist, Is Dead at 91", New York Times, May 17, 2010.
  • "Magic Numbers: Hank Jones, Ron Carter, Tony Williams", Do the Math, July 17, 2010.
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