The Late Pianist Hank Jones On NPR

Hank Jones i

Hank Jones plays at the Jazzaldia Festival in San Sebastian, Spain in July 2009. Jones continued performing up until his death. Rafa Rivas/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Rafa Rivas/AFP/Getty Images
Hank Jones

Hank Jones plays at the Jazzaldia Festival in San Sebastian, Spain in July 2009. Jones continued performing up until his death.

Rafa Rivas/AFP/Getty Images

Hank Jones, a pianist whose career spanned the majority of jazz history and whose playing reflected the lion's share of it, has died. Born in 1918, he was 91.

Ninety-one! Chronologically, that means his formative years predated the bebop revolution of the mid-1940s. His inspiration came from even earlier sources: as he told NPR's Liane Hansen last year, his main influences were Earl Hines, Fats Waller, Teddy Wilson and Art Tatum. He had already absorbed stride piano as a vernacular before starting his career in the company of Swing Era giants — and only afterwards did he begin working with the Charlie Parkers, Dizzy Gillespies and Ella Fitzgeralds of the world. After that point, he never stopped performing — even this year, his schedule was booked through the fall.

Naturally, he was a man of great sagacity and swing — and elegance, as I myself noted backstage at A Jazz Piano Christmas 2007. A full remembrance of his life's work is coming for air. In the meanwhile, do see these features from NPR's recent archives:

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