Sunday, 19 August 2018

Dill Jones born 19 August 1923

Dillwyn Owen Paton "Dill" Jones (19 August 1923 - 22 June 1984), was a versatile and accomplished Welsh jazz pianist. He was a master of the Harlem stride style of Fats Waller and a well-known interpreter of the piano music of Bix Beiderbecke.

Jones was born in Newcastle Emlyn, Carmarthenshire, on 19 August 1923. He was brought up in New Quay on the Cardiganshire coast. Music was in the family as his mother was a pianist and his aunt played organ at the Methodist Tabernacle. He began playing when he was seven years old and by the age of 10  was turned onto jazz by hearing records by Fats Waller and Bix Beiderbecke on the radio.

After leaving college Jones followed his father into banking but was called up by the Royal Navy for wartime service in the Far East from 1942 to 1946.  When the war ended he enrolled at Trinity College of Music in London but did not complete the course, preferring the informality of late night jazz sessions.

He turned professional in 1947 joining Vic Lewis in 1948 then with Harry Parry 1949 - 1950 and Kathy Stobart also in 1950 before plying his trade as ship's pianist on the luxury liner, the Queen Mary, sailing between New York City and Southampton. This gave him the chance to visit New York's jazz clubs and see the likes of Coleman Hawkins and Lennie Tristano.

During the 1950s he was associated with all the local bop based musicians - he had played in Tony Kinsey's Trio in 1953, played with Joe Harriott, and had also been a key member of the Tommy Whittle quintet from April 1954 until September 1956. He also gigged with Don Rendell, Ronnie Scott and Jimmy Skidmore as well as introducing jazz programmes for the BBC.


He formed the Dill Jones Quartet in 1959 and only made a few records in Britain under his own name. Perhaps his finest was the 1959 EP recorded by the enterprising Denis Preston at Lansdowne studios, Dill Jones Plus Four. Anyone lucky enough to own this record will hear not only Jones' urbane piano style on themes by Duke Jordan and Sonny Rollins, but also the lyrical eloquence of tenor saxophonist Duncan Lamont.

Dill also worked with the Bert Courtley Sextet but following a decade as one of London's busiest and most adaptable jazzmen Jones moved permanently to America in October 1961. Settling in New York City, he became an expert in the Harlem stride style. Jones was soon in demand, and earned his reputation playing with the likes of Roy Eldridge, Gene Krupa, Jimmy McPartland, Max Kaminsky and Yank Lawson, becoming a much respected member of the New York jazz community.

Between 1969-73, Jones he was a member of the JPJ Quartet with Budd Johnson, Oliver Jackson and Bill Pemberton. In 1972, Jones recorded a glorious album for the American Chiaroscuro label, Davenport Blues, a tribute to Bix Beiderbecke which affirmed once more the pianist's total lack of regard for stylistic straight-jackets and which is among his finest recordings. After 1974, he performed both as a soloist and with a band at clubs around the New York area. Dill also worked with the Countsmen and the Harlem Blues & Jazz Band.

Jones never forgot his homeland, and in 1978 he came back to the U.K. to perform at the inaugural Welsh Jazz Festival in Cardiff. He also returned for a visit in 1983. He and also appears on several tracks on a fellow Welsh jazz musician's CD: Wyn Lodwick and Friends - My 50 Years In Jazz - featuring Dill Jones.

He died from throat cancer in Calvary Hospital in the Bronx, New York, on 22nd June 1984, at the age of 60.

Jet said he was "instrumental in bringing jazz to British television when he hosted the BBC Jazz Club." He was honoured later that year at the National Eisteddfod in Lampeter by being posthumously admitted to the Gorsedd of Bards, cited as "one of the leading jazz pianists in the world". 
The New York Times wrote in his obituary "A versatile, accomplished pianist, he was a master of the Harlem stride style of Fats Waller and a well-known interpreter of the piano music of Bix Beiderbecke"

A  double CD anthology of Dill Jones` work was released in 2004, entitled Davenport Blues - Dill Jones plays Bix, Jones And A Few Others. Included amongst the 31 tracks are many of Jones' own compositions, including "New Quay Blues" and "There Are no Flowers In Tiger Bay".

1 comment:

boppinbob said...

For “Dill Jones presents The Dixieland All Stars - Jones The Jazz 1961” go here:

Audio codec: FLACType of rip: tracks
A1 Struttin 'With Some Barbeque (04:14)
A2 Gone Tomorrow (06:07)
A3 of The Preacher (02:46)
A4 Farewell Blues (05:44)
B1 Them There Eyes (03:24)
B2 Caravan (04:43)
B3 St David (02:49)
B4 I Can not Give You Anything but Love, Baby (02:42)
B5 Jones The Jazz (Dill Jones) (04:55)

Personnel: - Dilwyn Jones - piano - Keith Christie - trombone - Bert Courtley - trumpet - Vic Ash - clarinet & tenor saxophone - Bill Sutcliffe - bass - Benny Goodman - drums
Recorded on January 26th and 27th, 1961 by Columbia Records (UK), LP - 33SX 1336

A big thank you to Les (the guv’nor) @ Loadsamusic for active link.