This edition of Classics' chronological account of Coleman Hawkins' 1937-1939 recordings takes in the tenor giant's last few years of a half-decade stay in Europe. By this time, Hawkins was well on his way to possessing the incredible command and ingenuity eventually essayed on his epochal 1939 recording of "Body and Soul." And while he saved his best for that landmark performance and other cuts that marked his return to the States, Hawkins certainly didn't just make due on the Continent. In addition to more tracks with Danish jazzers the Ramblers (their initial work with Hawkins is heard on the earlier 1934-1937 disc), the collection features the four legendary sides Hawkins made with the All-Star Jam Band, which included Django Reinhardt, Benny Carter (the other main jazz ex-pat of the time), and Stephane Grappelli, among other French players; if there are finer combo performances from this period than "Honeysuckle Rose" and "Sweet Georgia Brown," they number only a few. Hawkins further plies his ever-developing horn skills on several fine duo cuts with pianist Freddy Johnson, including the Hawk-penned "Lamentation" and a version of "Stardust." For listeners interested in acquiring just a single disc covering the saxophonist's European recordings, this generous volume is the one to get.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Cook