Hawk Soars In Swingville


A freewheeling 1960 jam session with pianist Tommy Flanagan and trumpeter Joe Thomas, the Coleman Hawkins All-Stars' journey through Swingville presents the leader's majestic tenor saxophone the best possible way: Sounding large and in charge as Hawkins blows hot, fiery breath into this set of swinging, blues-based jams.

Hawkins steers two Ellington favorites, "You Blew Out the Flame In My Heart" and "I'm Beginning To See The Light," into vehicles for his powerhouse sound. Even when the horns come together in unison, there's no doubt whose voice stands first among equals. The melody and rhythm of "More Bounce To The Vonce" drink deeply from the sassy swing era "Don't Sit Under The Apple Tree," and frame Flanagan unraveling nasty Horace Silver jazz under their cover. "Cool Blue" radiates the cool, creeping kind of blues that both sophisticated piano and squealing trumpet can sing. I could have listened to "Bounce" and "Cool" roll on all night.

Flanagan seems to constantly play his way into inescapable corners and then nimbly play his way out. Trumpet, trombone (Vic Dickenson), and tenor all exercise "Some Stretching" to usher Swingville out with a stellar jam highlighted by Flanagan's best solo of the set:  So good, so fast, so in the pocket, and so deeply (and so brilliantly) blue.

You can hear "Bean" Hawkins performing with other all-star ensembles on Jam Session In Swingville (Prestige, 1992) and the 1960 concert date Bean Stalkin' with Roy Eldridge, Benny Carter, Herb Ellis and others (Pablo, '88).