Coleman Hawkins – The Hawk Flies High

The Hawk Flies High

Coleman HawkinsThe Hawk Flies High Riverside RLP 12-233 (1957)

Compares favorably with a lot of other well-known hard bop albums of the day: Walkin’, Thelonious Monk / Sonny Rollins, etc.  Coleman Hawkins (whose nicknames included “Hawk” and “Bean”) was the guy credited with establishing the saxophone as a primary instrument in jazz.  Over the years he updated his style, or, as the Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings would have it, kept pace with changing styles without really updating.  In hard bop mode, his music has a distinctly slower tempo than some younger players who first came up in the bop era.  The Hawk Flies High is a good album for someone new to jazz.  It has enough of those qualities that fit the stereotype of a smoke-filled 1950s nightclub to satisfy preconceived notions of a novice latter-day jazz listener.