Young Coleman Hawkins Speaks and Plays


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After Coleman Hawkins left Fletcher Henderson in 1934, he spent nearly five years touring in Europe. Having established the saxophone as a serious jazz instrument, he provided significant inspiration among

European musicians as jazz took a solid foothold on the continent and in the British Isles. Hawkins appeared with bands in England, Switzerland, France and Holland, recording often. Records he made in Paris with Benny Carter, Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli are among the finest of the 1930s. He recorded with the Dutch group known as The Ramblers and while he was in Holland made a short film, recently discovered by Harry Oakley, who posted it on the web. Here’s Hawkins in 1935, aged 31, introducing his performance. His piano accompanist is Leo de la Fuente.

Hawkins returned to the United States in mid-1939. Shortly after, the success of his recording of “Body and Soul” made him one of the best known jazz musicians in the world.

A sad sidebar to a delightful clip; the pianist de la Fuente, a Jew prominent in Dutch music, was taken to Germany by the Nazis during World War II. He died in Auschwitz in 1944.

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This story appears courtesy of Rifftides by Doug Ramsey.
Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved.

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