Jazz Appreciation Month: Coleman Hawkins.

Coleman Hawkins was the original Tenor Saxophone champion of Jazz with his robust tone, lyrical sound and effortless improvisation. He was ahead of his time as a Jazz musician and rapidly found himself unchallenged in the USA and so moved to Europe where he recorded a significant series of recordings with Gypsy Jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt and Violinist and occasional pianist Stephanne Grappelli. Upon return to the USA he unknowingly start the beginning of the bebop movement with a recording of Body and Soul. This was recorded almost as an afterthought and after the first 8 bars barely refers to the original melody, also note the high D note in the middle section.

Hawkins would be a pinoeer on the bebop scene and would also indulge in populist set ups like Norman Granz Jazz at the Philharmonic. New challenges were always on his mind and he recorded a “Picasso”, a three and a half minute unaccompanied Saxophone piece. Hawkins influenced countless players but the most obviously influenced player was Sonny Rollins who continued Hawkins’ spirit until he retired in 2017.

Hawkins notable later work was his contribution to Max Roach’s civil rights inspired suite We Insist!

Coleman Hawkins died in 1969.

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