Coleman Hawkins, An Introduction To Coleman Hawkins

Adam Sweeting

By Adam Sweeting

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
As this splendid overview of the Hawk’s sprawling and varied career proves, the jazz giant had “big ears.”

It's a jolt to be reminded that Coleman Hawkins ("The Hawk") was a contemporary of Louis Armstrong, perhaps because he never seemed outdated, remaining at the forefront of tenor playing for 45 years until his death in 1969. As his great rival Lester Young put it, "He's the person who woke you up and let you know there was a tenor saxophone." Unlike many of his contemporaries who would be left behind by jazz's incessant evolution, Hawkins could adapt to changing styles (not least the momentous leap from swing to bebop) and was able to fend off challenges from younger pretenders. This 15-track introduction offers a useful introduction to Hawkins 'sprawling career and covers a variety of phases from the mid '30s to the mid '60s. It runs the gamut from small groups to Hawkins 'big band, encompassing standards like "Stardust" and "The Man I Love," and even pitting Hawkins against gypsy jazzman Django Reinhardt. Proof indeed that Hawkins had "big ears," as jazzers would have it.