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Coleman Hawkins: In Europe

By most accounts, Coleman Hawkins was no longer an innovator by the 1960s. Although he is often credited with having virtually invented jazz saxophone in … Read More "Coleman Hawkins: In Europe"

By most accounts, Coleman Hawkins was no longer an innovator by the 1960s. Although he is often credited with having virtually invented jazz saxophone in the ’20s during his tenure with Fletcher Henderson, Hawkins had since been eclipsed by the likes of Parker, Coltrane and that other Coleman, Ornette. But that doesn’t mean the man couldn’t still blow, and this collection of in-concert and live-in-studio sessions filmed during Hawkins’ final decade-he died in 1969, at age 64-makes for some thrilling musical and visual moments.

Of course it didn’t hurt that Hawkins still attracted high-caliber collaborators. In the opening segment, a 1964 London concert, Hawkins and his band, including Harry “Sweets” Edison on trumpet and Jo Jones on drums, tear into Wardell Gray’s “Stoned” with abandon. Pianist Sir Charles Thompson and bassist Jimmy Woode soon leave the main theme behind for an outside venture that Hawk not only understands but kicks into a higher gear. “Caravan” is fired up but not flashy, and the ballads “September Song” and “Willow Weep for Me” showcase Hawkins’ and Edison’s savvy with bluesy moods.

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