When original Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman retired in 1993, it could have thrown sand into the steel wheels of the world’s preeminent rock n’ roll band. Instead, the group managed to find a worthy replacement for Wyman in the fingers of the fleet and the beating thumb of Darryl Jones.
The acclaimed musician, who cut his teeth playing with Miles Davis barely out of his teens, is the subject of the new documentary Darryl Jones: In the Blood. The Greenwich Entertainment film, directed by Eric Hamburg, is now in theaters in a limited release and debuted Friday on VOD platforms including Amazon Prime and Apple TV.
“It’s not an easy thing to replace someone who is a full-fledged founding member of a band like the Stones,” Hamburg noted during a Q&A for the film in Santa Monica on Thursday. evening. “And yet, Darryl was able to do it. And I think he brought a new element to the Stones that they needed. I don’t know if they could have gone on for the past 30 years if they hadn’t had Darryl Jones playing with them.
During the Q&A, Jones reflected on what he needed to learn about the Stones and their music to earn a spot in the band.
“One of the first things I understood about Rock n’ Roll was that there’s a certain amount of irreverence…there’s a level of chaos that you fight over,” said Jones. “Once I understood this, and [drummer] Charlie Watts – the way he plays – really helped me understand that not all ‘i’s have to be dotted, not all ‘t’s have to be crossed out. Sometimes those details are the real wonder and those are the things that make music human and special.
The film explores the subtle role a bass player has in a unit like the Stones. The bass, like its namesake base, plays a fundamental role in music.
“Daryl has many jobs. I mean, he has to lock himself in with the drummer,” Hamburg pointed out. “He must also be the third ‘weaver’, like Keith [Richards] Put the. Keith was so incredibly enthusiastic about Darryl.
All current members of The Rolling Stones were interviewed for the film, including Richards, Mick Jagger and guitarist Ronnie Wood. Watts, who died last year at the age of 80, spoke with the filmmakers before his passing. He praised Jones as both a musician and a good guy.
“In a band, you really have to get along with everyone,” Watts said in Hamburg. “And Darryl is one of those people who is very easy to work with and very pleasant to be around.”
In some ways, as the film reveals, Jones was an unusual choice to succeed Wyman. Yes, he had played in Sting’s post-Police band, but he was steeped in jazz more than rock. This, ironically, really pleased Richards and Watts.
“Charlie is a jazz drummer in his heart and in his feelings,” observes Richards in the film. “And Darryl, with his jazz influence and his background, that was natural for me.”
Jones grew up in Chicago in the 1960s, with a father who taught him the drums and a mother who exposed him to a variety of music. He learned bass around the age of 10 and was tutored by a neighbor, Angus Thomas, a gifted bassist himself who later played with Miles Davis. At the age of 21, Davis invited Jones to join his band, and he played with the revered trumpeter for about five years in total, sandwiched around his time in Sting’s band. Jones said part of what he most fully enjoyed through Davis was the difference between collaborating with other musicians on stage and wanting to show off his solo skills.
Jones said he learned “by listening, in a way, and allowing what you play to be informed by the musicians around you, and not informed by ‘Oh, I’ve got this great shot. language that I worked on,'” he said. “One of the things I tell students is that if you think about it, whether it’s music or a conversation with a person, listening is an act of love.”
Darryl Jones: In the Blood contrast with documentaries about doomed musical artists – for example, the Amy Winehouse film by Asif Kapadia; Janis: little blue girl about Janis Joplin; I called him Morganabout jazz trumpeter Lee Morgan, who was murdered by his common-law wife, and Bill Evans: Time Remembers about the late jazz pianist who struggled with drug addiction.
“It’s not like you see so many movies about ‘this guy was a great musician, but he got mad and he overdosed and he died, or he had a plane crash’ or anything,” Hamburg said. “It’s a film about a very inspiring person. And so I wanted to keep the focus on that.
Part of what is inspiring about Jones is that he still sees himself as a developing artist, exploring new horizons. The film shows him rehearsing and performing with a band he formed, The Darryl Jones Project.
“After years of backing big names in music, Darryl Jones brings his own soul rock to the stage, showcasing original songs and deep covers,” the musician’s website says of his band. “His music tells stories of his childhood on Chicago’s South Side and has influences ranging from James Brown to Curtis Mayfield to The Beatles, as well as the legendary musicians he shared the stage with.”
Jones also started a company that makes custom musical instruments, “custom-built in the USA using state-of-the-art methods and centuries-old practices.”
“I had a wonderful experience of building an instrument for someone and giving it to them and seeing them fall in love with it,” he recalled during the Q&A. “There are all these things I want to do.”
He has new music coming out this month, including a song used at the end of Darryl Jones: In the Blood. He says he’s “just going to keep releasing music. And it’s part politics, part love. Much of it is family. “In the Blood” is really a song written from the perspective of my brother and me. And what I’m talking about is how blessed I feel to be born to the parents that I was born into. And how it all happened, I think, has a direct relationship to how my parents taught me how to navigate the world.
And when the Rolling Stones call him, he’ll be there, helping them get started and keep going.
Hamburg says there is a lot to learn from Darryl Jones.
“I hope [the film] will inspire young people to pick up an instrument, to play and write music, to write songs, to express themselves,” said the director. “Darryl doesn’t fit the clichés of rock stars. He is not arrogant. He’s not on a big ego trip. He is very humble, down to earth, modest, in touch with his roots.