Henry "Red" Allen / Coleman Hawkins

Reunion in Hi-Fi: The Complete Classic Sessions

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Five blowing sessions from 1957 and 1958 find singing trumpeter Henry "Red" Allen and tenor saxophonist Coleman Hawkins jamming with some of New York's best mainstream traditional jazz musicians. The seed bed, as it were, for these studio recording dates was the Metropole, a big smoky nightclub up on Seventh Avenue, not far from Times Square. Hawkins, a seasoned veteran of the music, often comes across as gruff and blustery in this company, exactly as he did when they gigged together at the Metropole, where rowdy, beer-swilling audiences loudly demanded material that was more old-fashioned than what Hawkins preferred to play at that point in his life. Hawkins and Allen hadn't recorded together since 1933. Their initial contact had been as members of Fletcher Henderson's Orchestra, and the presence of ex-Henderson bandsmen in trombonist J.C. Higginbotham and clarinetist Buster Bailey makes the first 11 tracks (most of which was initially released as Ride, Red, Ride in Hi Fi and reissued by RCA Bluebird in 1990 as World on a String) feel like a true reunion. Presented as Henry "Red" Allen's All-Stars, the group was supported by a rhythm section led by pianist Marty Napoleon. Allen himself played and sang some of the best jazz of his life on this album. Here at long last it is compiled into the same package with similar recordings from 1957-1958 which have been released under numerous headings, most appropriately on the Jass label as High Standards and Warhorses. This wonderful compilation is rounded off with two excerpts from the CBS television special The Sound of Jazz, taped on December 5, 1957 with Allen leading an even tougher group combining full-strength Hawkins with the individualism of clarinetist Pee Wee Russell, trombonist Vic Dickenson, and cornetist Rex Stewart.

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