He was with the classic John Coltrane Quartet (which also included Jimmy Garrison and McCoy Tyner), from 1960-1966. The new style, subsequently to be highly influential, often found him in long duet passages with the saxophonist. It is widely considered to have re-defined "swing" (the rhythmic feel of jazz) in much the same manner that Louis Armstrong did during the initial stages of jazz's development.
His touring group Jazz Machine, normally a quintet, continues in the same musical direction. His sense of timing, polyrhythms, dynamics, timbre, and legato phrasing - as well as the sheer mass of sound he produces - brings the drumset to the fore.
Jones teaches regularly. He takes part in clinics, plays in schools, and gives free concerts in prisons. He emphasises the history of music, alongside drumming as technique.