Covering in detail a timeline from January 1944 to October 1945, this chapter in the Classics Coleman Hawkins chronology presents recordings he made for the Asch, Selmer, Capitol, Super Disc and V-Disc labels during what was an exciting and transitional period in the evolution of jazz. During the '40s Hawkins was deliberately aligning himself with young and innovative players; four of the sessions feature trumpeter Howard McGhee and pianist Sir Charles Thompson; bassist Oscar Pettiford was also an integral part of Hawk's mid-'40s West Coast band. Lush ballads and upbeat jam structures make for excellent listening throughout. Hawk is also heard sitting in with drummer Sid Catlett's all-stars, leading a quintet with the great Art Tatum at the piano, and working up his own extended set of "Variations" for solo tenor saxophone. While some commentators have focused unnecessary attention upon all-too-human drawbacks like Howard McGhee's addictions and occasional bouts of quarreling between Pettiford and Sir Charles, the music contained in this compilation stands squarely in its own light, unsullied by gossip or untoward circumstances.
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