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Judy Roberts on Rusty Jones

Reflecting on the passing of drummer Rusty Jones, I have two immediate thoughts: first, I haven't accepted the fact that he's gone; second, there isn't one memory I have of him that doesn't need Rusty's verification, corroboration, embellishment and humorous perspective. In short, it’s difficult to write about Rusty without Rusty's help. At every turn I'm thinking, I have to ask Rusty! The beginning: I met Rusty for the first time at a club called Jack Mooney's in Sandberg Village in Chicago. But what year? Coincidentally, as I was trying to remember, my husband, Greg Fishman, was reading one of his old DownBeat magazines. In one of the 1967 issues, in the “Who's Playing Where” section, there it is: "Judy Roberts at Jack Mooney's, Tues---Sat." So that answers the "what year" question. Rusty would have known that and more off the top of his head, including various details like what song I was playing when he walked in and all of the things we talked about that night! What I do know is that he was working as a rep for Quaker Oats at the time, and was doing jazz gigs on the side in Cedar Rapids, and occasionally in Chicago. But with whom, when, where? I have to ask Rusty. And what about the events that occurred between that first meeting and our eventual historic house trio gig at the London House? And the crazy and wonderful things that happened in the years that followed? I'll do my best to remember, but again, I wish I could ask Rusty. The life and times of Rusty Jones are vast and wonderful and full of love. He touched so many people for so many years with his amazing spirit, humor, talent and generosity. If Rusty was currently "looking down from above" (which he firmly and famously believed he would never be doing), I'm sure he'd be chiming in with his usual smiley thoughts and facts, and helping me. Like always. We will be dedicating our week at the Jazz Showcase, May 12-15th, to Rusty. Also, in April, check out the tribute section to Rusty Jones at, to see the enormous outpouring from friends and fans whose words have appeared on Facebook, in articles, in memorials, from fellow musicians, and from his wife Mary Ellen and family.

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