Recent listening, current

Sunday, June 21, 2015

205. Coleman Hawkins with Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis / Night Hawk (1960)

Enough has been said about Hawk's invention of the wheel when it comes to the tenor sax solo. His influence extends over both horizons and has touched untold numbers of musicians both directly and indirectly. But his work, especially that of the transitional 50's and early 60's, is also a lot of fun to listen to. Hawk's professionalism was so cool it was casual, his technique an enigmatic balance of technical innovation and instinct. Here, in a 1960 session for the Swingville imprint and recorded by Rudy Van Gelder, he is heard with fellow tenor Eddie Davis, Tommy Flanagan, Ron Carter, and Gus Johnson. The title track, 10 minutes of slow blues loosely organized around a theme, is a pickup number that demonstrates the players' knack for the above. The contrast between the tone and styles of Hawkins and Davis on tracks like "In a Mellow Tone" provides an added dimension. Flanagan is in top form playing tastefully between the leads, Carter and Johnson a sympathetic unit whose attention to the music goes beyond timekeeping. As with Duke Ellington Meets Coleman Hawkins recorded for Impulse two years later, a good result from such a meeting of the minds was not a foregone conclusion, but in both cases the outcome was memorable.

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