Recent listening, current

Monday, February 4, 2013

25. Coleman Hawkins / In a Mellow Tone (1998)

Prestige had it easier than other labels in the task of compiling Coleman Hawkins' "best" studio recordings. Hawk's output on Prestige, Swingville and Moodsville commenced in 1958 and was completed by 1962, so the difficult job of choosing the most exemplary tracks was simplified. They chose from a diverse variety of small groups with Tiny Grimes, Red Garland, Tommy Flanagan, Major Holley, Ray Bryant, and Kenny Burrell, and others. It's a nice sampling of Hawk's technique and improvisational prowess. "Greensleeves" is done as a heartbreaking blues, and "I Want to be Loved" features Red Garland soulfully blocking the chorus while Hawk blows judicious bouts of syrupy vibrato. On Duke's "In a Mellow Tone," Hawk takes the left channel and Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis takes the right, trading gritty R&B inflected licks that progressively up the ante. The best part of this disc is that it does not sound conceptually disjointed. Hawk's distinctive voice and inventive ideas dominate the proceedings and keep the ear interested across almost five years of recordings with an assortment of players. 

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