November 8, 2019
Willie Jones, jazz percussionist, studied under the tutelage of the legendary Albert "Tootie" Heath. Before he was a semifinalist in the 1992 Thelonious Monk Jazz Drum Competition, Jones co-founded jazz band Black Note. The group's hard-swing sound propelled them to first place in the prestigious John Coltrane Young Artist Competition in 1991. Jones contributed his skillfulness as both musician and producer on all four Black Note recordings: 43rd & Degnan and L.A. Underground (World Stage Records), Jungle Music (Columbia) and Nothin' But the Swing (Impulse!). The band toured Europe athe U.S. and was the opening act for Wynton Marsalis.
Jones gained the privilege of playing sideman to vibist Milt Jackson. From 1995 to 1998, he was a member of Arturo Sandoval's band and is featured on Sandoval's Grammy-award winning release Hot House (N2K). Subsequently, Jones recorded with Horace Silver on Jazz Has a Sense of Humor (Impulse!).
Jones was a member of Roy Hargrove's Quintet and is featured on Roy Hargrove's CD releases on Verve: Moment To Moment, Hard Groove, Nothing Serious and Rh Factor's Distractions. Jones can be heard on a host of recordings including Kurt Elling's Grammy-nominated Night Moves (Concord) and Eric Reed's Here (Max Jazz). Jones has worked with Sonny Rollins, Ernestine Anderson, Bobby Hutcherson, Wynton Marsalis, Cedar Walton, Frank Wess, the Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band, Houston Person, Billy Childs, Eric Reed, Ryan Kisor, Eric Alexander, Bill Charlap, Michael Brecker, Herbie Hancock and Hank Jones. In 2000, Jones' released his debut CD, Vol 1... Straight Swingin', on his own label, WJ3 Records. Subsequent releases include Vol II... Don't Knock The Swing (2002); Volume III (2007); and WE 2 (2008), a trombone and piano recording featuring Wycliffe Gordon and Eric Reed. Jones' latest release is The Next Phase (2010).