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January/February 1997

Coleman Hawkins
Coleman Hawkins All Stars
Swingville

This doesn't quite live up to the promise of the personnel: Hawkins, Joe Thomas, Vic Dickenson, Tommy Flanagan, Wendell Marshall and Osie Johnson. It sounds, in fact, as though it were recorded too early in the day (January 8, 1960).

The opener, Johnny Hodges' "You Blew Out the Flame in My Heart," may have been unfamiliar to them, and it is not until the last two long performances of "Cool Blue" and the significantly titled "Some Stretching" that they sound warmed up and really committed. Joe Thomas is not in his best form, particularly not in comparison with the level he attained at the classic 1944 Keynote encounter with Hawkins on Cozy Cole's date. Annotator Frank Driggs hints at insufficient work during this period, so maybe his chops were down. Osie Johnson's "More Bounce to the Ounce," incidentally, has a gospel flavor and rhythm which he implies effectively with a tambourine. Hawk's big sound and energy are powerfully manifested on "Some Stretching," where Dickenson also rides happily. Flanagan's solos are tastefully ingenious throughout, but possibly too light for the context. As memory serves, the sound on the LP was better, warmer, deeper. - Stanley Dance

Originally published in January/February 1997
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