Monday, May 22, 2006

Hawk bops

"The Birth of Bebop: A Social and Musical History" by Scott DeVeaux, University of California Press, was a little heavy on the musicological for me but the book also looks at the social, especially racism, and economic forces that drove the advent of bebop and it doesn't stint on the personalities involved, focusing in particular on Dizzy Gillespie while including some leaders in the movement who haven't received as much attention, such as Howard "Maggie" McGhee.

What I found especially interesting was Coleman Hawkins' facilitation of bebop by showing that small group concert, versus dance, jazz could be lucrative for black musicians, as well as by his incorporation of bop into his own music. I can hear it in "Bean and the Boys," Prestige, which has Hawkins in three octets and a quartet including Monk and modernists like Fats Navarro, Max Roach, J.J. Johnson, and Hank Jones, among others. The first set, he's transitioning from big band swing. The second and third, he's bopping, man. On the final set, from 1959, he's adapted soul jazz. But he's always Coleman Hawkins. It's hard to mistake that Hawkins sound, indelibly etched in my mind from "Body and Soul." In addition, all except seven of the 22 tracks on "Coleman Hawkins 1945" from the French Classics Records label are by Hawkins small groups with McGhee and much of the music is bop leaning. Personally, I think Hawk is talkin' trash to Charlie Parker on "Rifftide" and "Stuffy."

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