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Hank Jones

Photo by Ed Newman
Background information
Birth name Henry Jones
Born July 31, 1918 (1918-07-31) (age 91)
Origin Vicksburg, Mississippi, U.S.
Genres Bebop
Occupations Musician
Instruments Piano
Years active 1944–present
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 (born July 31, 1918) is an American jazz pianist, bandleader, and composer. Critics and musicians have described Jones as eloquent, lyrical, and impeccable.[1]

In 1989, The National Endowment for the Arts honored Hank Jones with its highest honor in jazz, the NEA Jazz Masters Award.[2] He was also honored in 2003 with the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) Jazz Living Legend Award.[3] In 2008, he was awarded the National Medal of Arts. On April 13, 2009, the University of Hartford presented Hank Jones with a Doctorate Degree for his musical accomplishments.

Hank Jones has recorded over sixty albums under his own name, and countless others as a guest.[4]



Born in Vicksburg, Mississippi, Henry "Hank" Jones moved to Pontiac, Michigan, where his father, 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 sang; his two older sisters studied piano; and his two younger brothers—Thad, a trumpeter, and Elvin, a drummer—also became world famous jazz musicians.[5] 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.[6]

In New York, 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,[7] 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 December 1952, with Teddy Kotick on bass and Max Roach on drums.

Engagements with Artie Shaw and Benny Goodman followed, and recordings with such artists as Lester Young, Cannonball Adderley and Wes Montgomery, as well as being for a time, 'house pianist' on the Savoy label. From 1959 through 1975 Jones was staff pianist for CBS studios.[8] This included backing such guests as Frank Sinatra on The Ed Sullivan Show.[9] With his rare combination of talents as a strong soloist, sensitive accompanist, and adept sight-reader, Jones has always been in great demand for recording sessions of all kinds, and may be heard on thousands of albums. An anecdote of those years is that he was on stage at the piano behind Marilyn Monroe as she sang "Happy Birthday Mr. President" to John F. Kennedy on May 19, 1962. 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 Gomez and Al Foster, and in 1982 Jimmy Cobb replaced Foster. The trio has 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 has been 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 recent 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 has recently made his debut on Lineage records, recording with Frank Wess and with guitar player Eddie Diehl, but also appears on West of 5th (2006) with Jimmy Cobb and Christian McBride on Chesky Records. He has also accompanied Diana Krall for "Dream a Little Dream of Me" on the album compilation, "We all Love Ella" (2007 Verve Music Group). He's 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.

Early 2000 saw the Hank Jones Quartet accompanying jazz singer Salena Jones at the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival in Idaho, and in 2006 at the legendary Monterey Jazz Festival with both jazz singer Roberta Gambarini and the Oscar Peterson Trio.

Hank Jones is sometimes known by the nickname "Bad Henry."

Hank Jones lives in upstate New York.

Awards and recognitions

Grammy history
  • Career Wins:
  • Career Nominations: 5[10]
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

Year Title Personnel Label
1950 Hank Jones Piano Jazz Mercury
1956 Urbanity Jazz Clef
1975 Hanky Panky Jazz (with Ron Carter and Grady Tate) Inner City
1976 Hank (Hank Jones Solo Piano) Jazz Jazz Alliance
1977 Bop Redux Trio with George Duvivier & Ben Riley Muse
1977 I Remember You George Duvivier, Oliver Jackson Black & Blue
1977 Just for Fun Ray Brown, Shelly Manne, Howard Roberts Galaxy
1978 Our Delights Piano duo with Tommy Flanagan Galaxy
1978 Ain't Misbehavin' Richard Davis, Roy Haynes, Bob Ojeda, Teddy Edwards, Kenny Burrell Galaxy
1978 Groovin' High Quintet with Sam Jones, Mickey Roker, Thad Jones, Charlie Rouse Muse
1995 Steal Away Jazz Verve
2003 Porgy & Bess Jazz Toshiba EMI
2004 Satin Doll Jazz Absord Japan
2005 My Funny Valentine Jazz Sony/CBS
2006 Round Midnight Jazz Sony
2006 West of 5th Jazz Chesky
2006 Hank and Frank Jazz Lineage
2009 "Hand and Frank II" Jazz (Featuring Frank Wess, Ilya Lushtak, Marion Cowings, John Webber & Mickey Roker). Lineage

As sideman


  1. ^ 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.
  2. ^ National Endowment for the Arts: Henry "Hank" Jones
  3. ^ 2003 ASCAP Jazz Living Legend Award
  4. ^ Jazz Review: Hank Jones
  5. ^ Henry "Hank" Jones bio
  6. ^ Larkin, Colin. The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music, Guinness, page 2206, (1995) - ISBN 1561591769
  7. ^ Feather, Leonard. Inside Jazz, Da Capo Press, page 89, (2997) - ISBN 0306800764
  8. ^ Village Voice Interview
  9. ^ Harvard: Hank Jones
  10. ^ Grammy Awards Database for Hank Jones

External links


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