Friday, January 25, 2013

Rollin' Around the Horn: Hawk, Dizz, Getz, Mex

Rollin' Around the Horn
Nat Hentoff's Liner Notes for
Sittin' In (Verve/Clef)

About 6 a.m., a few days before the July 4, 1957 weekend, three tenors, a trumpet and a rhythm section convened in a New York recording studio. They left about five hours later - and this is the result. It marks the first time that Coleman Hawkins, Paul Consalves, and Stan Getz have ever recorded together. It's also a reunion between Dizzy and Hawk. They were responsible for an historic date in 1944 at which sessions titles like Woody n' You and Disorder at the Border were recorded. It was musically an important early modern jazz event but also was a rare graphic indication for that warring time that the “bop" movement was not a break with the jazz tradition; for after all, Coleman Hawkins had Dizzy on his date.

“I never worry about styles noway,” Coleman said recently. “I like to get fellows together that play.” Coleman approves of both his reed colleagues on this session, and adds: “You know Paul’s been playing a long time and deserves a lot more credit than he’s gotten."

“Paul,” Stan Getz commented on the session, “plays a ballad that's just beautiful. His ballad playing on the date gassed us all. I've always loved the way Coleman plays; he’s always had his own style, his own way. His work has lucidity and freedom. He seems to just roll around the horn and his sound is so full.”

Stan Getz, in Prez gesture, 1952
Getz return to Consalves: “He’s very much underrated. On the up tunes, he sort of reminds me of the whole school of Hawkins and Webster and Lucky Thompson, but on the ballads, he comes into his own as a very great tenor.”

Cetz was also enthusiastic about pianist Wynton Kelly, a member of the Dizzy Gillespie band. “Wynton is terrific. He’s in the Hank Jones class, may be even a little more of a swinger. He’s a little under Hank maybe in playing all the changes and in Hanks consistently beautiful taste on ballads, but he’s a fine young pianist.”

Cetz has recorded before with Dizzy Gillespie and has evolved a plan whereby their styles will best complement each other. “The more and more we play together,” says Stan, “the more it’s going to mean. Even though we are different, we can complement each other. Unlike Sonny Stitt, who plays along with Dizzy in the regular bebop style, I’m going to play completely legato, exactly opposite to his style, and I feel that’ll do it.”

The tenors were at their most rewarding, it seems to this listener, in the ballad medleys. The up tempos might have been benefited by some functional writing for interludes and backgrounds instead of the break-the-jet-barrier jamming, but there are moments of value on those tracks too. As both the other tenors noted, Gonsalves is excellent on the ballads and it is by these rather than the endless string of choruses at Newport than he should be identified.

Paul Gonsalves, Milan, Italy, 1969
It's also worth noting that it’s becoming more and more commonplace to mix men of different ages and, to some extent, different styles on record dates. If the blending is done with care and imagination, the results can be stimulating to all concerned. There should be no chasm made between jazzmen who want to play, or try to play together. A couple of summers ago, Jimmy Giuffre and Pee Wee Russell joined at Music Inn in Lennox in a remarkably sustained, wholly moving blues.

And a few weeks ago, Coleman Hawkins recorded with Thelonious Monk and several of the younger modern hornmen. A couple of times during the date, Monk lectured to the young men: “Bean has no trouble with this. He gets it right away. Why can't you?"

There is talk by the Secretary of Labor that it is wrong to low-rate job skills of men after 40. Same is true of jazz, and more A&R men ought to recognize the fact.

-- NAT HENTOFF (1957)

Published here by kind permission of Mr Nat Hentoff.

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