1944 and 1945 were explosively transitional years for jazz and few members of his generation were more willing to change with the times than tenor saxophonist Coleman Hawkins, who acquired a leguminous nickname during the 1920s when his fellow musicians decided that he had a head shaped like a haricot bean. Originally released in 1996, Harlequin's Bean and Ben bundles together some of Hawk's best work from the period with a few contemporaneous selections featuring tenor man Ben Webster, who is teamed with trumpeter Emmett Berry as well as tenors Budd Johnson and Walter "Foots" Thomas. Indeed this compilation should probably be called "Bean, Ben and Foots," as Thomas was either leader or riding shotgun on many of the sessions represented here. The excitement of new ideas based in established traditions is palpable throughout this compilation. With swing rapidly morphing into both bop and rhythm & blues, every player was called upon to utilize his musical ingenuity as creatively as possible. Additional participants on this exciting mid-'40s New York jazz sampler are trumpeters Charlie Shavers and Jonah Jones; saxophonists Hilton Jefferson, Eddie Barefield, and Ernie Caceres; pianists Billy Taylor, Clyde Hart and Thelonious Monk; bassists Milt Hinton, Slam Stewart, and Oscar Pettiford, and drummers Cozy Cole and Denzil Best.
AllMusic Review by arwulf arwulf