Coleman Hawkins Essay

1967 Words8 Pages
Coleman Hawkins “I think he was the most interesting jazz musician I’ve ever seen in my life. He just looked so authoritative . . . I said, ‘Well, that’s what I want to do when I grow up.’”(DeVeaux, 35) Cannonball Adderley said these words when he first saw Coleman Hawkins with the Fletcher Henderson band at the City Auditorium in Tampa, Florida. Just as Hawkins influenced one of the greatest alto players in history, he has influenced many people to become phenomenal saxophone players. Lester Young and Sonny Rollins both give tribute to Coleman Hawkins as being the “‘proliferator’ of the tenor saxophone as a jazz instrument.”(Kernfeld, 506) Hawkins, unfortunately, is labeled as a swing musician though; and while he did begin…show more content…
By the time he was twelve he was already being paid to perform at school dances. He then went to high school in Chicago for, at most, one year before dropping out to attend Washburn College in Topeka, Kansas. He studied for two years at Washburn at which time he learned about harmonies and composition; which would prove to be of utmost importance to him and his career in later life. At seventeen, Hawk got his first regular gig in the spring of 1921 playing in the orchestra for the 12th Street Theater in Kansas City. That very summer, Mamie Smith and the Jazz Hounds performed at the theater Hawkins was working. After hearing Bean play, Mamie Smith offered him a job touring with her group. By March of 1922, the Jazz Hounds, now with Hawkins, were playing in New York at the Garden of Joy. Shortly afterwards, he appeared on his first recording with the group. Although his contributions are hardly notable throughout most of the album, he did get a reasonable solo with the tune, I’m Gonna’ Get You. Hawkins and the Jazz Hounds toured across the country reaching out to California, playing in the musical revue, Struttin’ Along. The Jazz Hounds’ act was a mix of vaudeville and blues, as were most primarily African-American groups in the twenties.(Sadie, 322) Hawkins role was a cross of the two styles in which he would slap-tongue his saxophone while lying on his back with his feet in the air.(DeVeaux, 48) After the show
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