Coleman Hawkins

Picasso: 1929-1949

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What did Coleman Hawkins and Pablo Picasso have in common? The obvious answer is that each man mastered his medium and boldly redefined the perceived artistic parameters of the day, thereby leaving a legacy that still amazes and transforms anyone who takes the time to visit and revisit the oeuvre. When in 1948 Hawkins recorded an unaccompanied sax solo and named it after the world-famous Spanish painter, he was honoring the spirit of creativity that exists throughout all of humanity and cannot be suppressed. Arguably one of the best of the Giants of Jazz compilations, Picasso: 1929-1949 presents a portrait of a true musical archetype while summoning up a mini-history of jazz as it evolved over a 20-year period. The stylistic diversity on this one disc is refreshing and rewarding, even if the producers of this series couldn't resist engaging in their favorite game of gazing through the wrong end of the binoculars by means of an inverted chronology with several temporal knots near the middle of the track list. The collective personnel index reads like a membership roster from the jazz wing of the musicians' union back in the day. Hawkins is heard with the Mound City Blue Blowers and the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra; co-leading a fine little band with trumpeter Henry "Red" Allen in 1933, heading up his own ensembles before, during, and after the Second World War and laying down a couple of fine ballads ("Sophisticated Lady" and "I Surrender Dear") in Paris near the end of 1949. This disc is strongly recommended for anyone who loves or wants to fall in love with jazz. It should not be confused with the last disc of Proper's excellent four-part Coleman Hawkins anthology, which also bears the name Picasso.

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