When the Welsh jazz pianist and composer Dill Jones (born Dillwyn Owen Paton Jones) died far too young in 1984, the New York Times obituary was titled Dill Jones, Pianist, Dies at 60; Expert in Harlem Stride Style.  No one who ever heard Dill rollicking through Waller, James P., Sullivan, or his own improvisations on ANYTHING GOES, could quibble with that.  But Dill was so much more, and now we have a half-hour’s vivid evidence, on several pianos, in his homeland (I don’t know a date, but I see that this recital was recorded in BBC Llandaff, Studio C1. — and Dill’s trio partners are Craig Evans, drums; Lionel Davies, string bass.  The songs are GRANDPA’S SPELLS / I WANT TO BE HAPPY (interpolating HANDFUL OF KEYS) / SLOW BUT STEADY (trio) / JITTERBUG WALTZ (solo) / A HUNDRED YEARS FROM TODAY (solo, Dill, vocal)  hints of boogie and IN A MIST / ON GREEN DOLPHIN STREET / YELLOW DOG BLUES (trio) / Reprise: GRANDPA’S SPELLS:

I saw Dill first as a member of the JPJ Quartet (Budd Johnson, Bill Pemberton, and Oliver Jackson), then at a solo recital in April 1972, thanks to Hank O’Neal — with Eubie Blake, Teddy Wilson, Claude Hopkins, as pianist in the Basie-reunion small band “The Countsmen,” and with Mike Burgevin, Sam Margolis, and Jack Fine in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, circa 1974.  The last time I saw Dill was not in person, but on one of Joe Shepherd’s videos at the Manassas Jazz Festival in December 1983, a tribute to Bobby Hackett and Vic Dickenson at the Roosevelt Grille (with Ernie Hackett, Larry Weiss, and Vic): Dill was not in good health but I can hear his ringing piano even now.

His stylistic range was broad and authentic: he could play in the best two-handed style but also be sweetly ruminative, and his musical intelligence was not limited to any one period.  And in our one person-to-person meeting, he showed himself as unaffectedly funny, gentle-spirited, articulate, and full of feeling.  A rare man, not only at the piano.

He left us far too soon, but — for half an hour — he is back with us.

May your happiness increase!

6 responses to “DILL JONES LIVE IN WALES

  1. Dill was one of the Sunday / Monday guys, as I recall, who played at Hanratty’s in the 1980s, during my med school days at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, in the Bronx , from 1981 – 1986. Having a limited amount of leisure time, and never having heard him, I found out, only from reading his NY Times obituary, that he had spent his final weeks in hospice care at Calvary Hospital, about a 15 minute walk from where I lived. I would have happily spent as much time with him as I could, and as he had desired, had I only known.

  2. I heard him with Krupa in 1965, I think. He was a lovely man. I asked all sorts of dumb questions about what he was playing. And he answered all of them.

  3. You brought back a great memory. I too first saw Dill Jones with the JPJ Quartet. It was at the Half Note. Probably 1971 or 72. I was 16 or 17. Have a signed album somewhere. Thanks for putting a smile on my face. I enjoy your posts.,

    Dave Statter

  4. Nice to know you’re out there!

  5. Robert Calder

    Dill wrote a regular report on New York for the British magazine JAZZBEAT, IN THE MID-1960s. This was by no means the same journal as the namesake which came later from George Buck. Somebody lost me the number of the British Jazzbeat which had Wes Montgomery on the front. Does anybody have a copy? Otherwise I have the run of these including Dill’s report. His last days were eased by the attentions of Joe Temperley, and Joe’s wife, a palliative care nurse.

  6. I would certainly like to read Dill’s prose!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s