The Radio Years 1940

Coleman Hawkins

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The Radio Years 1940 Review

by Scott Yanow

Coleman Hawkins' big band lasted just 11 months in 1940 before breaking up from lack of interest, and it only had one studio session, resulting in four titles. Fortunately, a couple radio broadcasts from the Savoy Ballroom survived. These 16 titles, formerly available on budget LPs, have been cleaned up and certainly never sounded better than on this reissue CD, which also restores the original announcer's comments. Hawkins' big band was quite musical, but lacked a personality of its own beyond the leader's formidable tenor playing. The main soloists other than Hawkins are trumpeter Joe Guy (influenced by Roy Eldridge but starting to look toward bop), trombonist Sandy Williams, and pianist Gene Rodgers, with Gladys Madden and drummer J.C. Heard contributing occasional vocals. Among the better numbers on this release are "Chicago," "It's a Wonderful World," "The Sheik of Araby," and a version of "I Can't Believe That You're in Love With Me" that features Hawkins with the rhythm section.

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