Coleman Hawkins

Newport Years, Vol. IV

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The Newport Jazz Festival was in its heyday during the 1950s, with star-studded combinations of various artists without the noisy crowds and on-stage showboating that often took over similar Jazz at the Philharmonic concerts. This 1957 set led by tenor sax giant Coleman Hawkins finds him trading licks with Roy Eldridge and the enjoyable but overlooked alto saxophonist Pete Brown (who Paul Desmond credited as an influence); the potent rhythm section consists of Ray Bryant, Al McKibbon, and Jo Jones. Hawkins easily dominates most of the full ensemble numbers, though Eldridge gives his all with several spunky solos. There's also a long ballad medley spotlighting each of the horn players, though it is momentarily faded after Brown's feature of "Day by Day" because of the timing limits of one side of a record; Eldridge stands tall on "Embraceable You," with Hawkins wrapping it up with a powerful "Moonglow." Everyone ends the set blazing with a romp through "Sweet Georgia Brown," with Bryant getting in several humorous quotes and Jo Jones demonstrates why he was considered one of the top drummers in jazz, though Eldridge creates a stir by sitting in with him on drums for a spell. Last reissued in the early '70s, this somewhat hard to find LP is a worthwhile investment.

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