THE HAWK IN HI - FI
Coleman Hawkins With Billy Byers And His Orchestra
Coleman Hawkins tenor saxophone, with Billy Byers arranger, and
his orchestra. Tracks 1 - 4, 7 - 10 and 13 - 21 concert orchestra
including strings. Tracks 5,6,11 and 12 big band line up. All
tracks recorded at Webster Hall NYC. January 17,18 and 20 1956.
1. Body And Soul
2. Little Girl Blue
3. I Never Knew
4. Dinner For One Please, James
5. The Bean Stalks Again
6. His Very Own Blues
7. The Day You Came Along
8. Have You Met Miss Jones?
9. The Essence Of You
10. There Will Never Be Another You
11. I'm Shooting High
12. Bean And The Boys ( issued as 39"-25"-39" )
ALTERNATE TAKES (previously unissued)
13. There Will Never Be Another You
14. There Will Never Be Another You
15. Little Girl Blue
16. Dinner For One Please, James
17. I Never Knew
18. Have You Met Miss Jones?
19. Have You Met Miss Jones?
20. Have You Met Miss Jones?
21. The Day You Came Along.
This is yet another re-release of a Coleman Hawkins
session from the 1950's. I was unfamiliar with this particular recording
but must say at once that it is an absolute treasure, comparing most
favourably with such similar dates as "The Hawk In Paris".
Interestingly enough these two "with strings" albums were
made within months of each other.
Hawkins is at his majestic best throughout this disc.
He obviously relished the idea of playing with a larger ensemble and
is encouraged by this to produce some of his most imaginative improvisations.
As on the "Paris" session the orchestra and soloist are used
in a complementary fashion - often one answers the other. Perhaps this
use of space added to the opulence of the arrangements was a contributory
factor to the high level of inspiration found in Hawk's solos on this
record. The orchestrations themselves are highly dramatic and often
recall the style of Hollywood film scores of this era. There can be
few settings as well suited to the regal saxophone offerings of Hawkins
than the ones found here.
The choice of repertoire is excellent - eight top notch
standards ( including some that are lesser known ) and four first-rate
Hawkins originals. ( Hawkins like Johnny Griffin in later years was
a most effective composer of both swinging style tunes and ballads -
it is an interesting comparison as they both are such structured players
and so completely in control of their performances.) " Body And
Soul " is in my opinion, just as interesting as the classic 1939
version. In most aspects it is very different but Hawkins quotes freely
from his earlier solo and produces a stunning cadenza. " Little
Girl Blue " is a particular favourite of mine and here receives
a most sympathetic rendition. " Dinner For One Please, James "
is one of those sophisticated songs normally associated with Noel Coward
or Cole Porter ( my only other experience of it being on a J.J.Johnson
record ) and it is played here in a very sensitive but almost nonchalant
style. " The Day You Came Along " was quite a famous ( early
30's ) Hawkins recording . Here it is much lighter in its reading as
well as being slightly faster and pitched in a higher register on the
saxophone. " 39" - 25" - 39" " is, in fact,
"Bean And The Boys" and is a pleasant illustration how tastes
have changed over the years! All of the alternate takes are well worth
This is a superb release and must rank amongst the best
of Coleman Hawkins. High praise indeed !
D.S. is a professional reed player and teacher living