Sunday, June 25, 2006

Hawk bops

"Half Step Down Please" has bebop written all over it, and why not? Fats Navarro, J.J. Johnson, Hank Jones and Max Roach are in the house. The tenorman ... a warhorse named Coleman Hawkins.

From "Coleman Hawkins 1947-50," Classics. That and Classics' Hawkins 1945 disk have really filled out my Hawk collection nicely. This was a strong period for him, mostly in small group settings where he shoulders the load. The sound on the CD is great and the music is flat-out essential.

The solo tune "Picasso" is in a category with "Body and Soul" and "Rainbow Mist," but there are fabulous Hawkins solos one after another throughout the program. The set with baritonist Cecil Payne seems to have really inspired him, on "The Big Head" for one, "There's a Small Hotel for Another." Some of the best, and most boppy, stuff is with a French band in Paris, including a kickin' version of "It's Only a Paper Moon."

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