Willie Jones III

Willie Jones III

Jazz Drums

Photo of Me

Willie Jones III. Photography by Adriana Mateo


With an unparalleled style of rhythmic expression, drummer Willie Jones III is one of the world's leading jazz drummers. In addition to honoring his monumental influences - the late greats Philly Joe Jones, Art Blakey and Billy Higgins - Jones' bold articulation and constantly innovative sense of swing are results of his life-long musical experience.

Born in Los Angeles, California on June 8, 1968, Jones' earliest exposure to music was through his father, Willie Jones II, an accomplished and notable jazz pianist, who offered guidance and inspiration to his gifted son. Dedicated to the further development of his skills, the younger Jones spent the next few years working diligently with acclaimed drummers and music instructors and began performing with distinguished musicians by the time he was in his teens. He completed his academic training after receiving a full scholarship to the California Institute of the Arts where he studied under the tutelage of the legendary Albert "Tootie" Heath. Before he was a semifinalist in the 1992 Thelonious Monk Jazz Drum Competition, Jones co-founded jazz band Black Note. Influenced by the rich soulful energy of the West Coast bop movement, Black Note's hard-swing sound propelled them to first place in the prestigious John Coltrane Young Artist Competition in 1991. Jones contributed his skillfulness as both musician and producer on all four Black Note recordings: 43rd & Degnan and L.A. Underground (World Stage Records), Jungle Music (Columbia) and Nothin' But the Swing (Impulse!). By 1994, the band had toured Europe and across the U.S. and was the opening act for Wynton Marsalis.

Near the end of 1994, while Jones was reaching for a higher level of drumming dexterity, he gained the privilege of playing sideman to the renowned vibist Milt Jackson, where Jones learned the importance of pacing and sensitivity. Meanwhile, his musical career continued to unfold. From 1995 through 1998, he was a member of Arturo Sandoval's band and is featured on Sandoval's GRAMMY® award winning release Hot House (N2K). Subsequently, Jones recorded with Horace Silver on Jazz Has a Sense of Humor (Impulse!).

From 1998-2005, Jones was a member of Roy Hargrove's Quintet and is featured on Roy Hargrove's CD releases on Verve: Moment To Moment, Hard Groove, Nothing Serious and RH Factor's Distractions. Jones can be heard on a host of recordings including Kurt Elling's GRAMMY® nominated Night Moves (Concord) and Eric Reed's Here (Max Jazz). Jones has worked with Sonny Rollins, Ernestine Anderson, Bobby Hutcherson, Wynton Marsalis, Cedar Walton, Frank Wess, the Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band, Houston Person, Billy Childs, Eric Reed, Ryan Kisor, Eric Alexander, Bill Charlap, Michael Brecker, Herbie Hancock and Hank Jones. In 2000, Jones' released his debut CD, Vol 1...Straight Swingin' on his own label, WJ3 Records. He continues to reveal his proficiency as a composer as well as a producer on Vol II...Don't Knock The Swing (2002); Volume III (2007); WE 2 (2008), a trombone and piano recording featuring Wycliffe Gordon and Eric Reed; and Jones' latest release The Next Phase (2010).

Releases as Leader:

My Point Is
Plays The Max Roach Songbook
Next Phase
Volume 3
Volume 2 ...Don't Knock the Swing'
Volume 1 ...Straight Swingin'

More at WJ3 Records >>

As a Support Player:

Isaiah J. Thompson Plays the Music of Buddy Montgomery WJ3 Records 2020
Teodross Avery Harlem Stories WJ3 Records 2020
Gregory Tardy If Time Could Stand Still WJ3 Records 2020
Rick Germanson Turquoise Twice WJ3 Records 2019
Ralph Moore Three Score WJ3 Records 2019
Justin Robinson At First Light WJ3 Records 2019
Steve Turre The Very Thought Of You Smoke Sessions 2018
Gerald Cannon Combinations Gerald Cannon 2017
Russell Malone Time For The Dancers HighNote 2017
Roxy Coss Restless Idealism Roxy Coss 2016
Russell Malone All About Melody HighNote 2016
Jacques Lesure Camaraderie WJ3 Records 2015
Steve Turre Spirit Man Smoke Sessions Records 2015
Russell Malone Love Looks Good On You High Note 2015
Peter Zak The Disciple Steeplechase 2015
Justin Robinson Alana's Fantasy Criss Cross Jazz 2014
Steve Turre The Bones Of Art HighNote 2013
Cyrus Chestnut Soul Brother Cool WJ3 2013
Dezron Douglas Live At Smalls Smalls Live 2013
Steve Davis Live At Smalls Smalls Live 2010
Cyrus Chestnut The Cyrus Chestnut Quartet WJ3 2012
Cedar Walton The Bouncer High Note 2011
Harold Mabern Somewhere Over The Rainbow Venus 2010
Cedar Walton Song of Delilah ~Harold plays Arlen Venus 2010
Houston Person Moment To Moment High Note 2010
Eric Reed & Cyrus Chestnut Plenty Swing, Plenty Soul Savant 2010
Eric Reed Stand! WJ3 2009
Cedar Walton Voices Within High Note 2009
Marcus Printup London Lullaby Steeple Chase 2009
Ernestine Anderson A Song For You High Note 2009
Joe Cohn Shared Contemplations Criss Cross 2009
Tom Guarna Wingspan Steeple Chase 2007
Houston Person Thinking of You High Note 2007
Kurt Elling Nightmoves Concord 2007
Roy Hargrove Nothing Serious Verve 2006
The R.H. Factor Distractions Verve 2006
Eric Reed Here MaxJazz 2006
Peter Zak For Tomorrow Steeple Chase 2006
Tom Scott Bebop United MCG 2006
Grant Stewart Grant Stewart +4 Criss Cross 2005
Roy Hargrove Hardgroove Verve Records 2003
Ryan Kisor The Sidewinder Video Arts Music 2003
Jon Mayer The Classics Reservoir Music 2003
Peter Beets New York Trio - Page Two Criss Cross 2002
Ryan Kisor Awakening Criss Cross 2002
Phil Woods with the Bill Charlap Trio Voyage Chiaroscuro Jazz 2001
Sherman Irby Black Warrior BWR 2001
Peter Beets New York Trio Criss Cross 2001
Ryan Kisor The Dream Criss Cross 2001
Jim Rotundi Reverence Criss Cross 2000
Roy Hargrove Moment To Moment Verve 2000
Horace Silver Jazz Has A Sense Of Humor Verve 1999
Ryan Kisor Kisor Video Arts Music 1999
Arturo Sandoval Hot House N2K 1998
Ryan Kisor Point Of Arrival Criss Cross 1998
Anthony Wilson Anthony Wilson Mama Records 1998
Kamau Daaood Leimert Park Mama Records 1998


Electronic Press Kit

Download Willie-Jones-3-epk.zip >>
- Biography PDF
- CD Cover
- Promo Photos

Press Clippings

Max Roach Songbook Live At Dizzys, Downbeat Review
Downbeat Feature
The NY Times Ft Greene Clinton Hill Blog Feature
NY Times Review
DownBeat Review
Jazz Times Review
Modern Drummer review
All About Jazz Review
Jazz Inside Feature
Jazz Inside Review
NY Times
San Diego Union Tribune