Coleman Hawkins on "For You, For Me, For Evermore"

Coleman Hawkins, ca. 1946
"It's funny about having a big tone… a lot of times I can play the exact same thing as someone else, but they swear it's different, but it's only because my tone is bigger" — Coleman Hawkins in Down Beat magazine (1956).

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It took me quite a long time to get into listening to Coleman Hawkins. Having been initially under the spell of Stan Getz and then Lester Young, Hawk's old-school, overtly romantic delivery sounded to me a bit corny and overdone in comparison. 

Then, one day I stumbled upon At Ease With Coleman Hawkins (1960) on Amazon—I think it had to do with someone's "Top 10 Tenor Saxophone Ballad Albums" on Listmania or something like that. The list-maker's description of the opening to the first track of the record, "For You, For Me, For Evermore" claimed that you could actually hear Hawk "swooping" through the musical ether, as it were. Naturally, I had to check it out. I was floored by the 30 second sample—unlike the scratchy old recordings of Hawk I had, this was a relatively modern recording and I could hear all of the subtlety to his sound. I ordered the CD immediately and recently thought I'd try to lift some of my favorite aspects of his playing—his time feel, attention to articulation and manipulation of pure sound, and sincerity—and try to get them into my playing. Here's Hawk's one-chorus solo on that opening track. The transcription, more than most others I've put up, just doesn't do justice to the feeling and sense of time that Hawk conveys, which is intensely personal: one of vulnerability but also unreserved, unfiltered emotion. Check it out:

Try to check out the actual track itself, especially the intro. Timeless tenor playing, and the rhythm section isn't too bad, either: Tommy Flanagan (pn), Wendell Marshall (bs), and Osie Johnson (dr).