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Coleman Hawkins

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Coleman Hawkins


Without Coleman Hawkins, the saxophone may never have made it out of the marching band. While playing with Fletcher Henderson's outfit in the 1920s, Hawk did more than put the saxophone on the map; it just didn't sound like it does now until Hawkins came along. When a young trumpeter/cornet player named Louis Armstrong joined Henderson in 1924, Hawkins immediately took notice; by the following year, Hawkins' sax playing had been completely transformed. Like a cliched wine description, his style was fluid, smooth and mellow, yet very robust and masculine -- indeed, it swung into next week. He inspired a legion of very different players, such as Johnny Hodges, Charlie Parker, Lester Young, and Sonny Rollins. Hawkins' 1939 recording of "Body and Soul" remains renown today and is the subject of a Manhattan Transfer song that incorporates his astounding solo into their lyrics.

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