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Reviewers: Don Mather, Marc Bridle, Ian Lace, Peter Woolf, Colin Clarke


"The Body and soul of the Saxophone"
COLEMAN HAWKINS
ASV Living Era Mono CD AJA 5378

Crotchet
 

Body and Soul
Hello Lola
One hour (If I could be with you one hour tonight)
The house of David blues
Queer Notions
It's the talk of the Town
The Day You Came Along
Jamaica Shout
I've Got to Sing a Torch Song
Donegal cradle Song
It Sends Me
Dinah
When Day is Done
Dedication
Esquire Bounce
My Ideal
Voodte
How Deep is the Ocean
The Man I Love
I Only have Eyes for You
Stuffy
Say it isn't so
Picasso

 

To say that Coleman Hawkins was the founding father of the Tenor saxophone in jazz, would not be an overstatement. He was not the first to record on the instrument but he was the first to make it sound like it belonged there. As jazz progressed out of the tight confines of the New Orleans trumpet, Trombone, Clarinet front line, it became even more appropriate. It is said that Coleman always liked to know the words of every tune he played, because he built his improvisations around them, it always sounds that way to me. He was the great master of the long and always melodic phrase and although he developed a phenomenal technique, it was never used just to show off, but was always present to support his jazz ideas.

The record starts in 1939 with the all time classic and definitive version of Body and Soul It should be studied by every aspiring Tenor Sax player, as it is a masterpiece of improvisation and the tune Hawkins will always be associated with. We then go back in time to 1929 for a couple of tracks from the Mound City Blue Blowers, this band of aspiring youngsters also included Glenn Miller on trombone and Gene Krupa on drums. The next three tracks have him in the setting of the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra, to which he gave a real edge over the rival bands of the time.

A Spike Hughes 1933 session produced Donegal Cradle Song on which Hawkins manages to produce a solo, which has a blues feel with an overtone of an Irish Folk Song, no mean feat! 'It sends me', is a very well played duet with pianist Buck Washington. Dinah, is with the Lionel Hampton band, which includes Benny Carter on Trumpet.

Esquire Bounce and My Ideal come from a 1943 Leonard feather session and feature Art Tatum on piano, Ed hall on clarinet, Cootie Williams on trumpet and the redoubtable Oscar Pettiford on bass.

The remaining tracks feature Coleman with several different small groups, which all produce some very pleasant improvisation mostly on standard tunes. The final track was new to me, a 1938 recording of an unaccompanied solo by Hawkins called Picasso, I found it very much to my liking and again demonstrated the virtuosity of this giant of the saxophone.

Rumour has it that Coleman Hawkins died because he could not bear to get old. If you listen to how his work develops here and then go on to listen to the volume of work that followed these recordings, you realise that whilst like all of us, his body got older Coleman Hawkins was a man who was in tune with the times.

This is a valuable release and I give it 4 Stars.

Don Mather



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