Coleman Hawkins: His Best Recordings, 1923-1945

Considerable interest attaches to this French series, because the selections are made by “an international panel of experienced and respected specialists.” In this case, the choices of Preston Love, Kurt Mohr, Duncan Schiedt, Johnny Simmen and Jerry Valburn detail Hawkins’ triumphant progress for 22 years very well, even though the transition from 1923’s “Shake Your Feet” to 1929’s “One Hour” is disconcertingly abrupt. A more rewarding Fletcher Henderson performance than “Underneath the Harlem Moon” might perhaps have been chosen, and the omission of favorites like “Sweet Lorraine” and “Thanks for the Memory” may be regretted, but in pacing and variety this is a good program. The big, dominating tone, technical mastery and harmonic knowledge are progressively demonstrated, so that the necessity for Lester Young’s alternative route becomes understandable.