The Deal: Tenor sax legend's '60s TV appearances compiled.
The Good: Coleman Hawkins doesn't get the ink today that the other tenor titans – Lester Young, John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins – still enjoy, but his reputation should be just as sacrosanct. This 20-song set gathers televised tracks from four different Euro dates ('61 to '66), and through most Hawkins still exhibits the rich melodic imagination that first put him – and the tenor sax as a solo instrument – on the map. The Hawk's 1939 version of "Body & Soul" remains a jazz gold standard, three minutes of pure invention where he states the melody once and the rest is improvisational genius, each fecund idea scaffolding for the next. It's reprised here in a '66 London date with the Benny Carter Quintet, and though it doesn't get anywhere near the same imaginative heights – the hard-drinking Hawkins was dead three years later – its historic weight still offers a frisson of delight. And there's plenty more history here for jazzbos, as legends like trumpeter Harry "Sweets" Edison, drummer Jo Jones and pianists Teddy Wilson and Sir Charles Thompson, among others, help Hawkins class up a variety of standards at different dates. An added treat is the 1961 short film, After Hours, a "real" after-hours jam session that, thanks to Hawkins' ridiculous glissandos and trumpeter Roy Eldridge's clarion tone, transcends the staged setup and cheesy "with-it" narration.
The Bad: Some of the sessions short Hawkins (an interminable Louie Bellson drum solo on The Hawk's "Disorder At the Border" is particularly cruel), and the liner notes are kinda skimpy.
The Verdict: Yes.