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Confessin': The Astounding Coleman Hawkins

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Album Review

Confessin' compiles two separate studio dates recorded on May 27, 1954, and April 24, 1958, under the leadership of legendary tenor saxophonist Coleman Hawkins. The Chicago 1954 session brings together an unknown combo consisting of organ, piano, guitar, and bass; the only surviving personal listing has Buddy Smith on drums. Originally released on the Savoy LP The Hawk Returns, the ten tracks pulled from that album emphasize slow blues, hard swinging, and a few standards, including "September Song" and "You Can't Take That Away from Me." The New Jersey date was recorded four years later at Van Gelder Studios and finds the Hawk teamed up with Count Basie's sax section and guitarist Freddie Green, with the rhythm section consisting of Nat Pierce on piano, Eddie Jones on bass, and Bobby Donaldson on drums. These three cuts were originally part of Savoy's Coleman Hawkins Meets the Sax Section, and include big-band versions of the Broadway themes "There Is Nothing Like a Dame" and "I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face," along with "Thanks for the Misery," written by the session's arranger/conductor, Billy VerPlanck.


Born: 21 November 1904 in St. Joseph, MO

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '20s, '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s

Coleman Hawkins was the first important tenor saxophonist and he remains one of the greatest of all time. A consistently modern improviser whose knowledge of chords and harmonies was encyclopedic, Hawkins had a 40-year prime (1925-1965) during which he could hold his own with any competitor. Coleman Hawkins started piano lessons when he was five, switched to cello at age seven, and two years later began on tenor. At a time when the saxophone was considered a novelty instrument, used in vaudeville...
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