Prestige Profiles: Coleman Hawkins was previously released as The Best of Coleman Hawkins by Fantasy in a 2004 collection. The new release also contains a bonus disc. More about all that later.
Profiles presents Hawkins mainly in a ballad setting and most often simply backed up by piano, bass and drums to showcase those majestic tenor solos that marry intuition and logic. On over half the tracks, the pianist is that sublime accompanist, Tommy Flanagan, and the mood is relaxed and lightly swinging with the exception of an expressive exploration of "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes." In another group with Ray Bryant on piano, Hawk and Kenny Burrell deliver an emotional down-home "Soul Blues" and prove with "Greensleeves" that melody played with feeling will hold the attention of even the most sophisticated jazz listener. In "I Want to be Loved," Hawk's solo and Red Garland's instantly recognizable chording result in a thoughtful and sentimental performance. And for fun and excitement, catch the friendly but serious competition between Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis and Hawkins on "Mellow Tone."
The Prestige Profiles series showcases the music of Miles Davis, Red Garland, Sonny Rollins, Coleman Hawkins, Eric Dolphy, Jackie McLean, Kenny Burrell, John Coltrane, Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, and Lightnin' Hopkins. It's the first release by the Concord Music Group of the material acquired when Concord purchased Fantasy,Inc and all the treasures in its vaults. The new management felt that the 2004 Best of series had "slipped through the cracks" during the negotiation period; hence the relaunch of the Prestige portion of that collection.
Each bonus disc is planned to be musically compatible with the featured artist CD and to draw further attention to the historical Prestige catalog. In the case of Hawk, he appears on one cut in a wild blowing session with Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, Arnett Cobb and Buddy Tate, all spurred on by Shirley Scott at the B-3. A lighter touch is exhibited by the combination of Benny Carter, Barney Bigard and Ben Webster. There's also Gene Ammons digging deep into the blues, the irrepressible Illinois Jacquet, Buddy Tate with an upbeat Buck Clayton small group, the twin trumpets of Shorty Baker and Doc Cheatham, two of the four brothers (Stan Getz and Zoot) and Wardell Grey's "Twisted." An interesting mix of blues, swing and bop - hopefully whetting jazz appetites. However, you may find the bonus disc frustrating. Like most samplers, there is very little information except the names of the featured players and the original record. if you want to know who else soloed or was on the gig you'll be driven crazy - or to Google. Or you could just listen and enjoy.