Kenny Clarke influenced me enormously. He totally revolutionized the world of the drums. He originated the way we play bass drum today—all those spaces. He taught us so much that we could progress a little further. When I first heard him play, I was so knocked out that I didn’t sleep at night. When I listened to Kenny I had the impression of being in the presence of the gods; that’s how impressed I was when I saw him play.
We lived together in New York for a time and that was a great opportunity for me. Kenny was my mentor. Max Roach and Art Blakey also expressed great feeling on the drums—and there are other great drummers like Elvin Jones and Roy Haynes. Some of them are excellent. But not like Kenny Clarke. Even Max, great as he is, doesn’t touch me as much.
—Philly Joe Jones in Jazz Hot, October 1985. Quoted in Mike Hennessey, Klook: The Story of Kenny Clarke.