The trench warfare over the two very different playing styles of Lester Young and Coleman Hawkins came to an end with the date of this recording. At the Jazz At The Philharmonic concerts the two musicians even stood on the stage together. Following up on these JATP live events, the recording company Verve brought the rhythm group and “Hawk” into the studio, the standard numbers were well-known and well-practised, the recording equipment was all set up and off they went.
Just listen to the fabulous flow of improvisation – it was not first with this recording that Coleman Hawkins proved that he was the first tenor saxophonist who knew how turn into music what he heard in his head. And then he has this gloriously warm yet thrilling sound; no matter whether it’s a slow tempo or a racy piece, “Hawk” remains superb, always recognisable and always an individualist. In the way he constructs his improvisations, one has the feeling that it just has to be like that, that there’s no other path to follow.
It’s really a waste of time to try to pick out any one number – although they are all short, each and every one is a gem.
The rhythm group deserves nothing but praise too. Or have you ever heard of a recording session where Peterson, Brown, Ellis and Stoller fail to add their own particular fire to pep up the soloist in the fast sections? The famous four are almost even better, however, in the ballads: reserved yet still giving the beat, simply great! Don’t miss this opportunity to buy some real ‘highlights’: this LP certainly deserves its name.