Coleman Hawkins

The Commodore Years: The Tenor Sax

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This attractive two-LP reissue (whose contents have since been reissued in Mosaic's massive Complete Commodore Jazz Recordings box set) consists of four interesting swing sessions. The first two are quite classic. The great tenor saxophonist Coleman Hawkins is heard with a pianoless sextet in 1940 that also stars altoist Benny Carter and trumpeter Roy Eldridge. Their four selections (plus two alternate takes) are all impressive but it is this brilliant version of "I Can't Believe That You're in Love with Me" (during which Carter takes solo honors) that is most memorable. The other Hawkins date is with a septet from 1943. Trumpeter Cootie Williams and clarinetist Edmond Hall are in fine form, but it is the participation of the remarkable pianist Art Tatum that makes the set particularly historic. The other two sessions, among the final ones for Commodore, showcase Frank Wess (on tenor and flute) with a variety of Count Basie's sidemen (including trombonists Henry Coker, Benny Powell and Urbie Green, trumpeter Joe Wilder and pianist Jimmy Jones) on some lightly swinging modern jazz.