Piano Legend Hank Jones Leaves 'Ripples' Behind

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Legendary pianist Hank Jones passed away May 16 at age 91. Host Liane Hansen offers a note of appreciation.


We want to end this hour of the program with a note of appreciation for legendary pianist Hank Jones, who passed away on May 16th.

This is a tune he wrote, "Ripples," from his 2009 CD, "Please to Meet You."

(Soundbite of music, "Ripples")

HANSEN: The recording was released just after his 91st birthday last summer. He had celebrated it on a plane to Japan for a concert. In August, I had the pleasure to interview Hank Jones and I was impressed by the vitality in his voice and his stamina.

Mr. HANK JONES (Jazz Pianist, Composer): I try not to do anything that would be detrimental to my health. I've always stayed away from drugs, liquor and wild women.

HANSEN: A prescription for longevity. Hank Jones described his tune, "Ripples," as a light, happy song.

Mr. JONES: You can imagine something else - rippling water, rippling stream.

HANSEN: That could describe sometimes what you do on the piano, you're rippling.

Mr. JONES: Well, actually, on the piano, I get ripped up. No, actually I don't.

(Soundbite of laughter)

HANSEN: It's that monster piano about to eat your fingers, right?

Mr. JONES: Well, you know, somebody described the piano as a man-eating monster with black and white teeth.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. JONES: Pretty close to the truth.

HANSEN: Just as Art Tatum and Oscar Peterson influenced Hank Jones, he influenced the next generation of jazz pianists. In his private time, Jones listened to classical music - Stravinsky, Tchaikovsky, Debussy and Ravel were his favorites.

As far as the future was concerned, Jones said there was always something he wanted to work on. Unfortunately for us that was not be. Hank Jones passed away in New York after a brief illness last Sunday. He was 91.

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