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It is fitting that this concert, showcasing the gigantic ability of one of the saxophone’s most accomplished practitioners, should take place in Dinant, Belgium, the birthplace of the inventor of the instrument, Aldolphe Sax.
Hawkins was fifty-eight years old at the time, and had four decades of experience behind him playing with the likes of Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie and Django Reinhardt. He had ridden the wave of The Swing Era before sparking the bebop revolution of the 40s and 50s through his recording of “Body and Soul” (1939).
Just what made that record special can be witnessed here, twenty years on: virtuosic, loud and characterful playing that cared more about emotion-led improvisation, and a liberal attitude to time signatures, than about following a swinging melody. Coleman is supported by a stellar lineup here, all masters in their own right.