Coleman Hawkins

Coleman Randolph Hawkins (November 21, 1904 – May 19, 1969), nicknamed Hawk and sometimes “Bean”, was an American jazz tenor saxophonist.

Hawkins was one of the first prominent jazz musicians on his instrument, as Joachim E. Berendt explained:

“there were some tenor players before him, but the instrument was not an acknowledged jazz horn”.

While Hawkins is strongly associated with the swing music and big band era, he had a role in the development of bebop in the 1940s.

You can argue that Hawkins established the tenor saxophone in jazz and with his great personality – and big, powerful tone – became a musician that all contemporary and later saxophonists should relate to.

Fellow saxophonist Lester Young, known as “Pres”, commented in a 1959 interview with The Jazz Review:

“As far as I’m concerned, I think Coleman Hawkins was the President first, right? As far as myself, I think I’m the second one.”

Miles Davis once said: “When I heard Hawk, I learned to play ballads.”

His recording of Body and Soul is one of jazz classics.

Jazz: Coleman Hawkins – Body and Soul (MP3)

Jazz: Coleman Hawkins and Charlie Parker (video)