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The Hawk Flies High by Coleman Hawkins

I always question the relevance of reissues. Concord Music Group has just released a re-mastered version of Coleman Hawkins The Hawk Flies High and I believe it is a valuable edition to anyone's jazz collection. The original, released in 1957 is next to impossible to find, the 2000 re-issue is difficult to find and expensive. The time is right to put out a new version. New technology and 24 bit re-mastering from the original master tapes has created a better mix. The sound is wonderful, the refined piano playing of Hank Jones is clearly heard as he comps to the horns and caresses the rhythm along side the skillful guitar rhythm ace Barry Galbraith, bassist Oscar Pettiford and big band swing drummer Jo Jones.

The album matches the original, the same number of tracks, six tunes beginning with the wonderful swing tune "Chant" by Hank Jones. Coleman Hawkins lets fly with a superb saxophone solo to announce the group. Idrees Sulieman responds on trumpet with a wake up call, followed by J.J. Johnson, a supreme trombonist, sounding smooth through slides of melodic sounds that compliment and enhance the other horns statements.

The liner notes are new, Orrin Keepnews has added a new set of liner notes. The original liner notes are included, they were written by the record's co-producer Orrin Keepnews as well. The new liner notes offer some illuminations as to the history of the session, the studio, the musicians and the Riverside record company.

Idrees Sulieman adds one song to the album, "Juicy Fruit." To open, he holds one note, a fluttering mid-register tone that hangs for about twelve bars. As you are just contemplating checking the cd player, he plays a few different notes followed by a nice little run, a tight arpeggio, a fast trill that catches the melody and opens the door for Hawkins to lay down some soothing tenor sounds. Wonderful phrasing, fast runs and a grand tone no matter the range. The range is all over the saxophone, from a deep throaty growl to a mid-range soulful voice. All the band members get a chance to solo, this is an extended number that runs over eleven minutes.

The album closes with a Coleman Hawkins original, "Sancticity," a very upbeat, hard swinging tune that highlights a different style of playing for Hawkins, a little dirtier on the tone, a lot of screaming, plenty of excitement. This was 1957 and Hawkins was clearly saying, no screaming, I’m still here and I have plenty to say.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Coleman Hawkins
  • CD Title: The Hawk Flies High
  • Genre: BeBop / Hard Bop
  • Year Released: 2008
  • Reissue Original Release: 1957
  • Record Label: Riverside Records
  • Tracks: Chant, Juicy Fruit, Think Deep, Laura, Blue Lights, Sancticity
  • Musicians: Coleman Hawkins (tenor saxophone), J.J. Johnson (trombone), Idrees Sulieman (trumpet), Hank Jones (piano), Barry Galbraith (guitar), Oscar Pettiford (bass), Jo Jones (drums)
  • Rating: Three Stars
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