Who was Hank Jones, and what were his contributions to music?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Hank Jones (1918-2010) is among the great jazz pianists, branded "the impeccable one" by jazz historian Ed Beach. Having recorded over 60 albums on his own and countless others with as a sideman, Jones was a prolific composer and a renowned musician. Jones felt that

...when you listen to a pianist, each note should have an identity, each not should have a soul.

He received numerous awards, among which are 5 Grammy nominations from between 1977 and 1995 with one win. He was a sideman for such greats as Artie Shaw, Benny Goodman, Dizzy Gillespie, Ella Fitzgerald, Milt Jackson, Lionel Hampton, and Nancy Wilson. 

Interestimgly, it was Hank Jones who accompanied Frank Sinatra on The Ed Sullivan Show and, later on, Marilyn Monroe as she sang "Happy Birthday, Mr. President" in May of 1962. But, it was his involvement as conductor and pianist both in the Broadway production of Fats Waller's Ain't Misbehavin' that made broader audiences familiar with his name and talents. 

During the 1970s and 1980s, in duos with other musicians or ensembles such as the Great Jazz Trio, Hank Jones performed as a soloist. Later he formed the Hank Jones Quartet that accompanied jazz singers Salena Jones and Roberta Gambarini in different jazz festivals. 

laurto | Student

Hank Jones was an American jazz pianist, bandleader, arranger, and composer. He recorded over 60 albums under his name and as a sideman and is considered one of the best jazz pianists of his time.