Elvin Ray Jones (9 September 1927â€“18 May 2004) was one of the most influential jazz drummers of the post-bop era. He showed interest in drums at a young age, watching the circus bands march by his family's home in Pontiac, Michigan. He served in the United States Army from 1946 to 1949 and subsequently played in a Detroit houseband led by Billy Mitchell. He moved to New York in 1955 and worked as a sideman for Charles Mingus, Teddy Charles, Bud Powell and Miles Davis.
From 1960 to 1966 he was a member of the John Coltrane quartet, perhaps his most celebrated recording phase, appearing on such albums as A Love Supreme. Following his work with John Coltrane, Jones led several small groups, some under the name The Elvin Jones Jazz Machine. He recorded with both of his brothers during his career, jazz musicians Hank Jones and Thad Jones. His later career saw him working with many of the younger jazz artists of today, including Bill Frisell.
Elvin Jones was born in Pontiac, Michigan. By age two he said he knew he held a fascination for drums. He would watch the circus marching band parades go by his home as a boy, particularly fascinated by the drummers (sometimes wandering off for miles after the parade). Following his early passion, Elvin joined his high school's black marching band, where he developed his foundation in rudiments. Jones began service in the United States Army in 1946. He was discharged in 1949, and returned home penniless. Jones said he borrowed thirty-five dollars from his sister when he got back to buy his first drumset.