Coleman Hawkins on View in '62

Nov 21, 2018

Coleman Hawkins was the subject of a beautifully filmed studio session taped in Brussels in 1962. The film was made following Hawk's appearance at a festival in Dinant, Belgium, the birthplace of saxophone inventor Adolphe Sax. The festival honored Sax, who'd patented the instrument in 1846, but who knows if it would have enjoyed its immense stature had Hawkins not invented a style for it in jazz, the idiom where it's found its most complete expressive identity. As saxophonist James Carter declared in Mosaic's recent release of The Savory Recordings, Hawk was both the first creative force on the tenor and its "Emancipator."

After the Dinant festival, which Hawk's biographer John Chilton called "a huge success," the tenor patriarch traveled to Brussels where a 32-minute film was shot by the Belgian jazz aficionados Yannick and Margo Bruynoghe. Hawk's accompanists included three American expatriates, guitarist Mickey Baker, bassist Jimmy Woode, and drummer Kansas Fields, and the French-born pianist Georges Arvanitas.

The set includes Hawk's durable 1940's originals "Disorder at the Border" and "Rifftide," as well as "Riviera Blues," which showcases Baker but also features one of Hawk's greatest blues performances, an idiom that for most of his career did not seem a good match for his creative, harmonically driven energies. 

Today is the 114th birthday anniversary of Coleman Randolph Hawkins.