Miles Davis was the only group I gave up New York to go out with. That was in ’54, and it was my greatest experience in the music business.
I don’t think I’ll ever be associated with four people like Miles, ’Trane, Red [Garland], and Paul [Chambers] again. That was like a factory. We were all learning from each other. Miles was really the teacher. Everything he would say to you was valuable. Now when I look back, I realize how much I learned from him about rhythm and time, and how to play around with the time and still have it right.
I’m still studying the instrument. I learn something every time I play. With my control of the instrument, I’ll take chances. I’ll try anything. If I dream up something while I’m playing, I’ll attempt it, because if I mess up, I know how to get out of it. Many times, as soon as a thought comes into my mind, it goes right to my hands. If I fluff it somehow, you never know it, but I’ll know it. There are a few things I won’t attempt on the stand because if I miss it, I won’t be able to clean it up. So I work with it in the house until I get it under control, and then I’ll start doing it on the stand. Attempting things is dangerous if you don’t have some experience.
Philly Joe Jones
Modern Drummer, February/March 1982