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Blues Wail: Coleman Hawkins Plays the Blues

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Album Review

Tenor great Coleman Hawkins was usually bored with the blues, at least until the period covered by this CD sampler. A master at deciphering complex chord changes, Hawkins found the blues to be overly simple but around 1957 (after 35 years of major league activity) he began to explore the blues more seriously, at least on an occasional basis. This CD has nine performances from as many sessions. The music is consistently excellent (particularly "Juicy Fruit," the lengthy "Blues For Tomorrow" which also features John Coltrane, "Stealin' The Bean" with trumpeter Charlie Shavers and a pair of collaborations with fellow tenor Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis), but it is recommended that listeners (beginners and experts alike) instead acquire the complete sessions, since the blues were only a small aspect of the Coleman Hawkins story.


Born: November 21, 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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