Thursday, March 23, 2006

Coleman Hawkins - Today and Now (Impulse, 1963)

The great tenor saxophonist Coleman Hawkins cut several small group albums for the Impulse label at the end of his career, and this album found him joined by Tommy Flanagan on piano, Major Holley on bass and Eddie Locke on drums. "Go 'lil Liza" starts things off at a jaunty mid tempo pace with Hawkins soloing easily, sounding strong and fine before giving way to a bowed bass solo. "Quintessence" has some delicate and light piano from Flanagan and a quiet, breathy tenor saxophone solo. "Don't Love Me" is a beautiful, breathy ballad with Hawkins moving around the melody in a slow, patient manner and Tommy Flanagan takes a gently probing solo before Hawkins enters with a pithy solo.

"Love Song From Apache" finds the bass and drums laying out and a dark piano interlude setting the stage before Hawkins comes in tenor solo so deep and dark that it takes on an almost foghorn like quality. "Put on Your Old Grey Bonnet" starts with a gentle piano trio before Hawkins digs in really deep with a long solo which is a highpoint of the disc. It's wonderful to hear a true legend allowed to unfurl a lengthy deeply swinging unhurried solo that builds to a potent climax. "Swingin' Scotch" is, as you can imagine, an upbeat groove, with an interesting scraping bowed bass solo. "Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree" wraps things up in fine fashion with an easygoing mid tempo Hawkins solo and a brief upbeat spotlight for piano. While this disc may not stand with Hawkins finest accomplishments, there is fine music here and it is certainly worth seeking out by fans of classic jazz or tenor saxophone enthusiasts.

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