Coleman Hawkins was already well on his way to becoming the first master of the tenor saxophone when these sides were recorded. With his ten-year incubation with the heralded Fletcher Henderson band in the past (not to mention fine stints with McKinney's Cotton Pickers and various session outfits), Hawkins moved to Europe in 1934 and proceeded to hone his tough yet romantic sound with a variety of overseas groups. This Classics disc covers the first half of his eventual five-year sojourn. In addition to the four sides with pianist Stanley Black that kick things off, the 22 cuts find Hawkins in the adequate, yet somewhat stiff, company of continental contingents from The Hague, Paris, and various other locales. Hawkins is impressive throughout, though, in spite of the less than swinging environs; thankfully, the ensemble playing heats up quite nicely on the cuts with Django Reinhardt. A few reservations having been aired, this disc's good overall sound and sufficient enough supply of quality solos and cuts make it a title Hawkins fans should seek out.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Cook