COLEMAN HAWKINS — The High And Mighty Hawk (review)

COLEMAN HAWKINS — The High And Mighty Hawk album cover Album · 1958 · Bop Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
js
When Coleman Hawkins recorded ‘The High and Mighty Hawk’ in 1958, the jazz world had left behind the swing and early bop that he had helped create, but lucky for us Hawkins knew better than to chase current trends but instead stuck with what he knew best, virtuoso lyrical solos that swung like no one else. Parker may have brought the crazy energy and dexterity, and Coltrane the unquenchable spirit, but before those two, Hawkins had the voice; a very warm and human approach to the saxophone that made the instrument sing like no other.

There is a special treat on this record for long time Hawkins fans in that the album opens with his first recorded shot at blues-jazz, ‘Bird of Prey Blues’. Hawkins had avoided the blues and preferred more melodic or complicated pieces, but here he lets loose a bit with his own relaxed elegant take on a sound that was a predecessor to the soul jazz craze that was just around the corner. Elsewhere on the album you get two ballads, two energetic boppish numbers and a nice old school swingin original called ‘Ooh-Wee Miss G. P.!’. Along with Hawkins, another star of this record is trumpeter Buck Clayton who often uses a mute to produce that high tinny sound favored by trumpeters in the earliest days of recorded jazz. On ‘Miss G.P.’ his muted trumpet echoes and mimics Hawkins in a style that takes us back to New Orleans. All of the tunes are nice, but the two bop numbers, ‘Vignette’ and ‘Get Set’ steal the show.

This is a great record, Coleman’s playing is rooted in swing and early bop, but he and Clayton also channel even earlier eras of jazz making this record an excellent time capsule in 1958 and even more so today.
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