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

Philly Joe Jones
Modern Drummer, February/March 1982