Classic Coleman Hawkins Sessions 1922-1947 (#251)

Mosaic Records Limited Edition Box Set


Classic Coleman Hawkins Sessions 1922-1947 (#251)
“Almost all of the recordings Hawkins made throughout a 45 year period were outstanding examples of improvisation, but among them were masterpieces by which all jazz tenor saxophone solos will forever be judged.” – John Chilton, The Song Of The Hawk
Limited Edition: 5,000 copies

8 CDs -  $136.00


The Coleman Hawkins Set You’ve Been Waiting For

The saxophone was patented more than a half century before jazz music developed but their affinity for each other might be nearly perfect. Potent, like the brass instruments whose ringing bell it shares, yet, sensitive as a clarinet thanks to the way its cane reed responds to changing embouchure, tonguing, breath, and attack, the saxophone can do everything a jazz instrument needs to do.

And no one knew it until Coleman Hawkins showed us how.

The man whose innovations elevated saxophone to its rightful place in jazz music is finally getting the retrospective he deserves, in a manner that only Mosaic can deliver. Thanks to our "limited edition" policy and the fact that rights to recordings on a host of labels have come to be owned by Sony Music, we are able to present a collection that crosses original label boundaries to define what was truly the best. We're calling it "Classic Coleman Hawkins Sessions 1922-1947" and it covers Hawkins as a leader and as a sideman

The Music Is A Revelation.

From the dawning of jazz's earliest days, through the developments that coalesced into swing with its rhythmic intensity and vibrant soloists, and on into the more modern era as small groups began experimenting with time and harmonics, Hawkins was a driving force for innovation and personal discovery. Not only did the music evolve; Hawkins evolved.

Hawkins was almost an exact contemporary of Louis Armstrong's; he was born three years later and died two years sooner. And while Armstrong unquestionably gets the credit for making jazz a genre for soloists, Hawkins shares some of the recognition for forging a personal direction on his instrument.

The slap-tongue style in vogue when he first came up is present in Hawkins' sound at the outset, but within months of being signed by Fletcher Henderson, his tone is full and the lines more fluid. Over the years, he takes a more elastic approach to time, hanging his solo against the rhythm instead of slavishly conforming to it and building exquisitely constructed melodies. Unlike many other tenor masters, he never appears to trot out reliable, stock licks. He is spontaneously composing. When you realize this is the late 1920s, the maturity of his choices is even more astonishing.

Ballads become his trademark.

Through the 1930s, his growth is exponential, especially in his ballad playing. Buttery warm and cozy, he finds notes that always work within the chord and are clearly there for anyone to find. But he's the one who finds them. And what is there to say about his solo on 1939's "Body and Soul" that hasn't already been said? This is the music that has proven so inspirational to generations of tenor saxophonists since; the endless possibility when taste and intelligence take on exceptional material.

Our jam-packed set on eight CDs includes 190 tracks, 12 never before released. Included is material from Coleman's earliest days with Mamie Smith and her Jazz Hounds, his time with Henderson including various pseudonym bands and offshoots that shared personnel, the Mound City Blue Blowers, Benny Goodman's orchestra, Lionel Hampton, Benny Carter, Count Basie, co-leader sides with trumpeter Henry Red Allen, Cozy Cole, and a variety of all-star dates for Metronome, Leonard Feather, and Esquire, as well as recordings as a leader of his own dates.

Accurate. Complete. Sound quality.

Our research has corrected many discrepancies in previous discographies. In an effort to be complete within the scope of the project, we have gone back to the best source available for every one of these recordings, be those original metal masters, test pressings, 78s, and in a couple of instances where no other source can be found, commercial CDs. Liner notes are by Loren Schoenberg, a Grammy-winner for his notes to our Woody Herman set. The box also includes a host of rare photographs from Hawkins' career.

We took loving care with this project, believing it may be the last time some of it will ever be available. Please don't miss out on this one-in-a-lifetime opportunity to own music you will listen to forever.

Read More About Coleman Hawkins:
Track Listing, Personnel & Recording Dates »

"The vast majority of his life was spent spreading joy through his intense and intricate music that he played with unfailing integrity. As with all great jazz musicians, Hawkins explored and helped define the area where the best attributes of composition and improvisation intersect, and all of us remain eternally in his debt." - Loren Schoenberg, liner notes

  • Booklet
  • Audio Quality
  • Photography
  • Sample Session Notes
Our liner note writer is no stranger to Mosaic customers. Loren Schoenberg was the perfect candidate to write about Coleman Hawkins and we are pleased to have his introspection on the music. Being a world-class tenor player and long time champion of the music he brings much to the table in this latest Mosaic set. He has the uncanny ability to convey such much more about music, that even though you might have heard, let’s say “Body And Soul” a million times, after reading what he has to say about the record makes you listen to it like it was the first time.

The sources used for our Hawkins set come mostly from the original metal parts and test pressings. However, where we did not have original source material we went to collectors from around the globe who provided us with mint 78s. Lloyd Rauch, Steven Lasker, The Institute of Jazz Studies, Michael Brooks, Leon Dierckx, Brad Kay, Scott Wenzel and John Wilby. We also were fortunate to able to track down 13 previously unreleased recordings. Kenneth Gross was able to provide alternates to two of the Allen-Hawkins recordings from 1933, two from the Hawkins-led Signature session of December 18, 1943 and one completely new tune to the rare Manor/Regis session of July 27, 1944; Tom Hustad for providing the alternate to “Tidal Wave” from a Fletcher Henderson date; Anders Ohman for providing alternates to the classic 1933 “It’s The Talk Of The Town” and from 1934 “It Sends Me”; and John Wilby for the alternate to On The Sunny Side Of The Street”. The rest of the previously unissued takes came from the Sony Music vaults (“She’s Funny That Way”, “Rocky Comfort” and a number of breakdowns and alternates from the 1946 Metronome All Star session.

Photo Copyright © Protected
Coleman Hawkins
The photographs in our large 12 x 12 booklet comes from both the Frank Driggs, Duncan Schiedt and Institute of Jazz Studies collections. Among the photos are many that come from the actual recording sessions including a Benny Goodman, Lionel Hampton, Esquire All-American Winners and one of the Signature sessions. There are also rare pictures from Chicago, The Fiesta Danceteria, Kelly’s Stable and Apollo Theater in New York and while he abroad during the mid 1930s.

Fletcher Henderson And His Orchestra
August 18, 1933

If there’s one quintessential Henderson recording session, this may very well be it. All of the elements are in place: innovative soloists, classic arrangements/compositions, a sterling rhythm section and good recording quality. In addition, we are fortunate to have two takes of three of the selections. Henry “Red” Allen inspired the band with his asymmetrical phrasing and harmonic sophistication, two qualities he shared with Hawkins, but that he approached from the other end of the musical spectrum. The addition of guitarist Bernard Addison was the catalyst that elevated the rhythm section to a new height. Though not heard nearly often enough as a soloist, lead alto Hilton Jefferson, who had already been in the band for a spell was also a musician of the highest caliber, and his very presence made the band sound better.

Yeah Man is best known today for this performance, but what we actually have is Horace Henderson’s variations on a theme written by pianist/composer J. Russell Robinson (once billed as the “White Boy with the Colored Fingers”) and lyricist Noble Sissle. Nowhere is the original melody stated, and the closest we get to it is a paraphrase at the bridge, which is notable for its unusually augmented harmonic rhythms. A year later, Fletcher recorded it again, this time titling it Hotter Than ‘ell and claiming composer rights. Horace Henderson manages to attain a fullness from what was by the standards of just one year later, a relatively small band: four brass and three reeds. The horns colors are transparent, and the players manage the tricky and notey backgrounds with elan. Most importantly, the ideas flows chorus to chorus with the inevitability that marks superior composition.

Hawkins shoots off dozen of ideas in his solo spots, many stated in blocky quarter note triplets. A highlight is the off-handed high notes that conclude his full chorus on take 2, perfectly setting up the band’s shouting entry. Allen only has a moment to say hello, promising better things to come. The differences between the two takes are minimal. Take 1 has the ensemble playing the last note of the first phrase short, as opposed to the longer one on take 2. Hawkins works his way up to the same high note at the end of his solo, and repeats the same closing bridge. Allen’s brief statement is more conventional than is blues phrase on take 1.

The discographies list Fletcher as pianist on this date but it sounds more like Horace to these ears. Contemporary press reports list him as the band’s pianist in the months preceding this session, with Fletcher playing just the occasional feature. Horace was an infinitely better jazz pianist that Fletcher, and his light but firm touch in the rhythm section is immediately noticeable as he doubles the bass notes with Kirby, establishing a bass counterpoint to the ensemble and solos.

The band had been lacking a first-class clarinet soloist since Benny Carter left in 1930, and Procope manages his assignments competently; it wasn’t until he joined Ellington in 1946 that he realized his full potential on that notoriously difficult instrument.

The two King Porter Stomps are a different story. It seems that take 2 would have been recorded first. Listen for the way Hawkins cues the entry of the sax riffs behind Stark’s second solo, catching the others unaware for a few beats, and the imprecision of the closing chord. This sounds like a band running through something on the way to arriving at a consensus. This is borne out by the relative brilliance of take 1, where not only are the ensemble portions far more tight and the tempo brighter, but the solos also make their points more definitively. Allen’s bridging into his second chorus with Rhapsody In Blue and Hawkins’ descending chromaticisms were echoed in later years by many soloists, specifically Pee Wee Erwin with Goodman’s band, and Herschel Evans with Basie’s. The shout chorus is led by Allen, who varies from the text on take 1with a short ascending phrase, which may sound like an accident, but it’s fair to say it wasn’t. The fact that he felt free to ad-lib while playing the first trumpet part (for that section of the chart – it may be Smith beforehand) signals Henderson’s willingness to keep spontaneity at the forefront, something his student Goodman never did, and for which he eventually paid the price of all his bands sounding the same.

Coleman Hawkins wrote some well-regarded and unrecorded arrangements for the Henderson band, most notably Singin’ In The Rain. All that exists from his pen is the “futuristic” sounding composition Queer Notions in a Horace Henderson arrangement. Replete with whole-tone harmonies, it is more of showcase for Allen than the composer, whose plays the interlude and a couple of other brief solos. His last one, an ascending whole-tone bridge was to attain far great recognition when Lester Young adapted it diatonically in his very first recorded solo, Shoe Shine Boy three years later. Allen steals the show with a courageous solo that superimposes diminished chords and blues phrases over the shifting whole-tone background.

Fletcher returns to the piano for his original Can You Take It, a hybrid of Blue Skies and the blues, written in the unusual key (for jazz bands at that time) of A natural. Henderson was a proponent of playing in tonalities that contrasted with the great bulk of dance band music, which was usually pitched in C, or one, two or three flats or one or two sharps. By doing this, he relieved the listeners as well as the band from pitch fatigue. You may not know it, but if you hear too many tunes in closely related keys, you will sense boredom. Another benefit was that it kept the musicians on their toes. The stories from Henderson band members are legion about dealing with four, five and six sharp/flat keys, and some even remarked that they had trouble playing in C when they left the band. The A section of Can You Take It is taken straight from the Berlin standard, while the bridge is an inverse variation on the original. Hawkins and Allen solo on the main theme, with blues solos in the center by Sandy Williams and Jefferson. The latter’s individuality comes shining through, as he sounds nothing like the predominant influences of the day, Johnny Hodges and Benny Carter. The use of the high clarinets in close proximity to high brass during the opening section is unusual and quite exciting, as are the trilling backgrounds. But the dramatic highlight, as is usually the case, is created by Hawkins’ swashbuckling solo, meeting all the harmonies head on, and making out them ravishingly beautiful melodies. Allen’s soto voce and brief appearance towards the end is played non-chalantly, but is nonetheless full of subtle beauty. Interestingly, Henderson’s arrangement of Blue Skies became one of the classics in the Goodman library in 1935, and remained as one of the clarinetist’s all-time favorites.

As with King Porter Stomp, the originally issued take 1 is slightly faster, more concise and tighter (especially the ensemble tonguing), but there is a spontaneity to take 2 that I find more attractive. They seem to be pushing on take 1, and on the plus side, Jefferson and Allen are closer to the mic and in the former’s case, plays a superior solo. Suffice it to say, it’s wonderful that both exist. If the coda sounds familiar, that’s because Henderson reprised it in his arrangement of Between The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea for Benny Goodman.


Click here to write a review

  5 stars for content, 2-3 for sound
This is a great set musically, as stated in the other reviews. Unfortunately many tracks sound as if the sound has "clipped" or has been overmodulated at the peaks. This is unfortunate for such an important issue from this usually dependably excellent company. Otherwise the transfers sound exemplary, so this problem is all-the-more frustrating. I have partially resolved the issue by laboriously using ClickRepair on all the tracks, and listening via iTunes.
I like the variety in this set, the different bands and groups and how Hawkins develops over the sequence of discs. It's a whole story, and most of it I never heard before. Great bands! Lots of tremendous musicians pushing/challenging Hawkins, what a pleasure.
"If Mosaic wants to make it up to me," an attempt at being funny, I hope.
The audio restoration is wonderful. I am crestfallen that there will be no Fletcher Henderson box. There is a lot missing from this collection. Five years in Europe, and some other forties sessions. I would have preferred a separate Henderson box and tried to find a bit more from elsewhere to fill out the collection, but I will take what I can get and I just ordered the similarly structured Chu Berry box a couple days ago. If Mosaic wants to make it up to me they can release another Benny Goodman box (the Benny Goodman tracks from 1934 sound fantastic). In fact I am mildly obsessed with the idea. All the music is great except for a couple vocal sessions on disc eight. The Leslie Scott is particularly bad. The collection, is for the most part, however quite well put together. The Lionel Hampton tracks sound out of place and they are already on the wonderful Lionel Hampton box, but otherwise, all the various sessions on the first seven discs transition well from one another. Again, Andreas Meyer did a really great job restoring the audio. I read an interview with him and he should know, I am jealous. I wish they would start putting music on DVDs in 24-bit 96kHz. Everyone has a DVD player (which can also play Cds), and all the receivers nowadays have DACs that can handle the sound, so why are CDs still being manufactured???
  The other guys
By the evidence of this set, Hawkins didn't play with medicore musicians. It's a pleasure to listen to these various bands and hear how good these guys were. I'm enjoying this set immensely, and the sound is superb!
  Hawk & Fletch
The set is as good as all the hype and chatter. One of Mosaic's best. In addition to the magnificent solos of Hawkins, the Fletcher Henderson band receives the glow of the spotlight. One of the great bands of early jazz, no doubt about it.
  Great early Hawk!
This Mosaic release was definitely well worth the wait. To hear these Hawkins' recordings, captured over the course of twenty-five years at one of the many times jazz truly smoked and evolved, is a phenomenal insight into a style of playing the tenor sax that was not only original but truly ground-breaking. The transfers on this box set are very much up to prime Mosaic standards. Beautifully transferred, this set brings to life all the clean crisp sound from 65+ year old recordings that are absolutely a jazz inspiration.
  One of the best Mosaic sets
This new set was worth the wait! This is one of the best Mosaic sets ever (and I've been buying them since 1987). Excellent music, great transfers (especially on some of the low-fi independent label items) and first-class notes by Loren Schoenberg. Mosaic has created a wonderful tribute and career overview of one of the greatest of all jazz artists. An essential purchase!
Wow - this guy could play!!

Classic Coleman Hawkins Sessions 1922-1947 (#251)
Classic Coleman Hawkins Sessions 1922-1947 (#251)
Limited Edition: 5,000 copies
8 CDs - $136.00

Customer Reviews:

This new set was worth the wait! This is one of the best Mosaic sets ever (and I've been buying them since 1987). Excellent music, great transfers (especially on some of the low-fi independent label items) and first-class notes by Loren Schoenberg. Mosaic has created a wonderful tribute and career overview of one of the greatest of all jazz artists. An essential purchase!
Read More Reviews »

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